Christopher Bell takes Xfinity win at Road America

Jim Utter
Motorsport

Bell held off a wild charge from Austin Cindric on new tires following a restart with two of 45 laps remaining to take the win in Saturday’s CTECH 180 at Road America.

of his Xfinity Series career.

“Man, I’m honestly in shock,” Bell said. “I really butchered qualifying and tore the crap out of the left-front. I felt like once we got in the race there, we’d be able to drive by those guys. Instead, they dropped the green flag and they were driving by me. That wasn’t much fun.

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“Then I told Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) I was really, really tight. We got those tires off and he said the left-front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there when we put our new set of tires on.

“That strategy worked out well for us coming in there (with 14 to go) and then the yellow coming out. This car was really, really fast today. We’ve had a great road course season.”

In the three road course races so far this season, Bell has finished second, second and now first. Cindric, who finished second Saturday, won the two races in which Bell was runner-up.

, was fifth with one to go and moved into second in the last turn of the last lap.

“In this kind of racing, you pretty much know that you’re going to be used up if you’re slower, so we wanted to go on offense,” Cindric said. “That was our strategy all day and we probably just needed one or two laps to get (car) in Victory Lane. 

“All in all, a good day, good points, p-2, it’s alright.”

Tyler Reddick finished third, Noah Gragson was fourth and Kaz Grala completed the top-five.

Rounding out the top 10 were Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe, Jeremy Clements, Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer.

With 20 of 45 laps remaining in the race, Matt DiBenedetto held a small but steady lead over Bell as Reddick ran in third. Cindric was fourth and A.J. Allmendinger completed the top-five.

Cindric was forced to pit on Lap 28 after sustaining damage from a run-in with Allmendinger on the track. 

After 30 laps, DiBenedetto maintained a small advantage over Bell as Allmendinger worked his way up to third.

With 14 laps to go, Bell was the first to make his final pit stop. 

On Lap 32, Brandon Jones blew a left-front tire that did extensive damage to his No. 19 Toyota and brought out a caution. Most of the lead-lap cars pit but Bell and Cindric stayed out as they were off sequence from the others. 

On the restart on Lap 35, Bell was followed by Garrett Smithley and Reddick.

Cindric powered around Bell in Turn 3 to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Bell stayed closed and went to the inside of Cindric in Turn 3 with nine to go and came away with the lead.

With five laps to go, Gray Gaulding went off course in Turn 1, through the gravel pit and backed into the tire barrier, which brought out a full-course caution. 

“Brake pedal went to the floor,” Gaulding said over his radio.

Most of the lead-lap cars stayed out but Cindric – who had one new set of tires remaining – elected to pit to put them on.

.

Stage 2 

Briscoe held off Justin Haley to win Stage 2, his second stage win of the 2019 season.

Regan Smith was third, Clements fourth and Gragson completed the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, several more lead-lap cars elected to pit but Cindric remained on the track and took over the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 13.

Gragson was penalized for being too fast on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

DiBenedetto jumped into the lead on the restart and Custer went off track in Turn 3, knocking down two sponsor signs in the process.

With five laps remaining in the second stage, DiBenedetto built up more than a 4-second lead over Grala as Bell ran third. Custer was forced to make yet another stop on pit road for repairs.

On Lap 17, Cindric made his first pit stop of the race. 

Allmendinger and Grala elected to pit on Lap 18, as did DiBenedetto.

With two laps left in the stage, Haley took over the race lead followed by Briscoe and Smith.

Briscoe got around Haley near the end of Lap 19 to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Stage 1 

Allmendinger locked up the Stage 1 win when Justin Allgaier ran off course in Turn 1 on the last lap of the stage to bring out a caution. 

Allgaier got stuck in a gravel pit, taking him out of contention early. 

Cindric was second, Cole Custer third, Reddick fourth and Haley completed the top-five.

Allmendinger, who started on the pole, took control early in the race and had moved out to a 1.4-second lead over DiBenedetto after four laps. Cindric ran third, Custer fourth and Reddick fifth.

On Lap 5, Brandon Jones went off course in Turn 11 but was able to continue on without further incident. Jones did make a pit stop at his next opportunity.

Halfway through the first stage, Allmendinger maintained more than a 1.5-second lead over DiBenedetto with Cindric in third.

With three laps remaining, DiBenedetto, Bell and Smith were among a group of drivers who elected to make the first pit stop.

After nine laps, Allmendinger had expanded his lead to more than 4 seconds over Cindric.

Before the race, the cars of Jones (backup car), Dexter Bean (engine change), Nic Hammann, Brandon Brown and Loris Hezemans (all unapproved adjustments) had to move to the rear of the field.

1

20

United States
United States

 Christopher Bell 

Toyota

45

 

10

2

22

United States
United States

 Austin Cindric 

Ford

45

1.891

4

3

2

United States
United States

 Tyler Reddick 

Chevrolet

45

4.657

 

4

9

United States
United States

 Noah Gragson 

Chevrolet

45

6.285

 

5

21

United States
United States

 Kaz Grala 

Chevrolet

45

7.653

 

6

11

United States
United States

 Justin Haley 

Chevrolet

45

7.978

1

7

98

United States
United States

 Chase Briscoe 

Ford

45

8.155

2

8

51

United States
United States

 Jeremy Clements 

Chevrolet

45

8.957

 

9

7

United States
United States

 Justin Allgaier 

Chevrolet

45

9.790

 

10

00

United States
United States

 Cole Custer 

Ford

45

10.675

 

11

39

United States
United States

 Ryan Sieg 

Chevrolet

45

10.725

 

12

1

United States
United States

 Michael Annett 

Chevrolet

45

11.398

 

13

8

United States
United States

 Regan Smith 

Chevrolet

45

13.198

 

14

07

United States
United States

 Ray Black Jr. 

Chevrolet

45

15.957

 

15

74

Nick Hammann 

Chevrolet

45

15.959

 

16

19

United States
United States

 Brandon Jones 

Toyota

45

17.583

 

17

52

United States
United States

 David Starr 

Chevrolet

45

21.419

 

18

4

United States
United States

 Ryan Vargas 

Chevrolet

45

22.850

 

19

35

United States
United States

 Joey Gase 

Toyota

45

25.331

 

20

93

United States
United States

 Josh Bilicki 

Chevrolet

45

29.044

 

21

78

United States
United States

 Ryan Ellis 

Toyota

45

29.40

 

22

99

Netherlands
Netherlands

 Loris Hezemans 

Toyota

45

35.138

 

23

15

United States
United States

 B.J. McLeod 

Chevrolet

45

45.265

 

24

10

United States
United States

 A.J. Allmendinger 

Chevrolet

45

1'19.892

10

25

66

United States
United States

 Tommy Joe Martins 

Toyota

45

1'22.642

 

26

23

United States
United States

 John Hunter Nemechek 

Chevrolet

45

1'22.864

 

27

18

United States
United States

 Matt DiBenedetto 

Toyota

44

2.177

18

28

5

United States
United States

 Vinnie Miller 

Chevrolet

44

1 lap

 

29

08

United States
United States

 Gray Gaulding 

Chevrolet

44

1 lap

 

30

61

Dick Karth 

Toyota

43

2 laps

 

31

36

United States
United States

 Josh Williams 

Chevrolet

41

4 laps

 

32

90

Dexter Bean 

Chevrolet

39

6 laps

 

33

0

United States
United States

 Garrett Smithley 

Chevrolet

37

8 laps

 

34

01

United States
United States

 Stephen Leicht 

Chevrolet

36

9 laps

 

35

13

United States
United States

 Chad Finchum 

Toyota

15

30 laps

 

36

43

Preston Pardus 

Chevrolet

14

31 laps

 

37

86

United States
United States

 Brandon Brown 

Chevrolet

10

35 laps

 

38

38

United States
United States

 J.J. Yeley 

Chevrolet

2

43 laps

 

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