Christopher Bell dominates Xfinity playoff opener at Richmond

Jim Utter

Bell kicked off the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs in dominating fashion Friday night, leading 238 of 250 laps and cruising to victory in the GoBowling.com 250 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

The victory locks Bell into the second round of the playoffs, regardless of how he finishes in the next two races

of his career.

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“That one was pretty special,” Bell said. “Going 92 laps straight there (to finish the race) was really difficult, we were sliding all around. 

“I felt like if I could get to traffic I would be in good shape because my car could really move around good. I could run up (the track) and I could run down. (Custer) was keeping pressure on us pretty good but this Supra was too good.”

Asked if he felt he had thrown the gauntlet down Friday night, Bell said: “Man, we’ve been really, really fast really all year long but the last three races we had an opportunity to win. I’m glad we got it done today.”

Austin Cindric finished second, Cole Custer was third, Justin Allgaier was fourth and Chase Briscoe completed the top-five.

With 50 laps remaining in the race, Bell maintained a 1.2-second lead over Custer as Allgaier ran in third. Cindric was fourth and Briscoe fifth.

With 30 to go, Custer’s deficit remained about the same and Cindric was in third, 6 seconds behind the leader.

After 240 laps, Bell’s lead had grown to 2.9 seconds over Cindric, who had moved into the runner-up position ahead of Custer.

Stage 2 

Bell continued to dominate, earning the Stage 2 victory with a more than 3-second lead over Custer.

Allgaier finished third, Michael Annett fourth and Cindric completed the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all of the lead-lap cars elected to pit, with Cindric the first off pit road. The race returned on green on Lap 83 with Jones in the lead as he stayed out.

Cindric quickly got around Jones for the lead on the restart only to be passed by Bell for the lead on Lap 85.

On Lap 87, Custer made his way into the second position as Cindric ran third.

With 50 laps remaining in the second stage, Bell maintained a small but steady lead over Custer as Cindric ran third.

After 110 laps, Bell finally opened up a 1-second lead over Custer. Cindric was third, Allgaier fourth and Briscoe fifth.

With 15 laps to go in the stage, Bell had opened up a more than 3-second lead over Custer as Allgaier moved into third.

Stage 1 

Bell dominated on his way to the Stage 1 win, leading 69 of the 75 laps.

Cindric was second, Noah Gragson third, Annett fourth and Custer rounded out the top-five.

Cindric started on the pole and led the first lap but Mike Marlar spun on the backstretch to bring out a caution. The race returned to green on Lap 6, with Cindric in the lead followed by Bell and Burton.

Bell got around Cindric on Lap 8 to take the lead for the first time.

On Lap 19, Burton cleared Cindric to take the second position as Cindric dropped to third.

With 50 laps to go in the first stage, Bell had moved out to a 3.2-second lead over Burton with Cindric still in third.

After 40 laps, Bell’s lead had ballooned to more than 6 seconds as Harrison Burton and Cindric closed up again to battle for second place. On Lap 43, Cindric got back around Burton to reclaim the second spot.

On Lap 51, Vinnie Miller hit the Turn 2 wall which brought out the second caution of the race. Only a handful of cars elected to pit which left Bell in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 58.

Tyler Matthews wrecked in Turn 2 on Lap 60 to bring out another caution. Bell continued to lead the way when the race restarted on Lap 68.

1

20

United States
United States

 Christopher Bell 

Toyota

250

1:57'16.0

238

2

22

United States
United States

 Austin Cindric 

Ford

250

1.70

8

3

00

United States
United States

 Cole Custer 

Ford

250

4.432

 

4

7

United States
United States

 Justin Allgaier 

Chevrolet

250

11.40

 

5

98

United States
United States

 Chase Briscoe 

Ford

250

13.657

 

6

18

United States
United States

 Harrison Burton 

Toyota

250

14.049

 

7

9

United States
United States

 Noah Gragson 

Chevrolet

250

14.812

 

8

8

Zane Smith 

Chevrolet

250

15.299

 

9

1

United States
United States

 Michael Annett 

Chevrolet

250

20.132

 

10

2

United States
United States

 Tyler Reddick 

Chevrolet

250

20.571

 

11

19

United States
United States

 Brandon Jones 

Toyota

250

21.035

4

12

39

United States
United States

 Ryan Sieg 

Chevrolet

250

23.436

 

13

90

United States
United States

 Dillon Bassett 

Chevrolet

249

1 lap

 

14

21

Joe Jr. 

Chevrolet

249

1 lap

 

15

23

United States
United States

 John Hunter Nemechek 

Chevrolet

249

1 lap

 

16

51

United States
United States

 Jeremy Clements 

Chevrolet

249

1 lap

 

17

11

United States
United States

 Justin Haley 

Chevrolet

249

1 lap

 

18

07

United States
United States

 Ray Black Jr. 

Chevrolet

248

2 laps

 

19

01

Ryan Repko 

Chevrolet

248

2 laps

 

20

35

United States
United States

 Joey Gase 

Toyota

248

2 laps

 

21

78

United States
United States

 J.J. Yeley 

Chevrolet

247

3 laps

 

22

08

United States
United States

 Gray Gaulding 

Chevrolet

247

3 laps

 

23

36

United States
United States

 Josh Williams 

Chevrolet

247

3 laps

 

24

93

CJ Mclaughlin 

Chevrolet

247

3 laps

 

25

52

United States
United States

 David Starr 

Chevrolet

247

3 laps

 

26

61

United States
United States

 Chad Finchum 

Toyota

246

4 laps

 

27

0

United States
United States

 Garrett Smithley 

Chevrolet

246

4 laps

 

28

99

United States
United States

 Matt Mills 

Toyota

244

6 laps

 

29

4

United States
United States

 Stephen Leicht 

Chevrolet

241

9 laps

 

30

15

United States
United States

 B.J. McLeod 

Chevrolet

240

10 laps

 

31

38

Hermie Sadler 

Chevrolet

125

125 laps

 

32

17

United States
United States

 Mike Harmon 

Chevrolet

85

165 laps

 

33

74

Tyler Matthews 

Chevrolet

58

192 laps

 

34

86

United States
United States

 Brandon Brown 

Chevrolet

55

195 laps

 

35

5

United States
United States

 Vinnie Miller 

Toyota

50

200 laps

 

36

89

United States
United States

 Landon Cassill 

Chevrolet

24

226 laps

 

37

13

United States
United States

 Stan Mullis 

Toyota

18

232 laps

 

38

66

Mike Marlar 

Toyota

1

249 laps

 

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