It was a memorable day at Kansas for Christopher Bell as the young driver scored his first Xfinity Series victory.
The win came with a late and controversial pass on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones. Driving hard into Turn 3, Bell was able to make the pass but drove low and hard into the turn. As he exited Turn 4, he drifted up the track to the point where Jones made hard contact that ultimately ruined an otherwise perfect day.
It comes as no surprise that the Truck Series phenom was able to win. His season has been dominant at the lower level and his Xfinity runs this year have been strong as well. Toyota have been developing him for the last couple of years with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series and it was recently announced that he’ll drive full-time next season in the Xfinity Series with the Gibbs team.
Jones was visibly frustrated with his teammate and his result. His car was the class of the field for most of the race, leading 186 of the 200 laps and taking the green-white chequered flag for both stages. While Bell had the speed at the end to contend for the victory, Jones was disappointed with the way that it happened. His car would suffer a flat tyre during the contact with Bell that would force him to pit and turn a great day into a 15th place finish.
Coming off of the first pole of his career, Tyler Reddick wound up in the second position followed by Ryan Blaney. William Byron finished fourth, the highest finish of any driver remaining in the Xfinity Playoffs. His run was impressive considering that he started from the rear of the field after unapproved adjustments to his car were discovered by NASCAR officials. JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier rounded out the top five and now leads the Playoff points standings.
Despite a spin and other troubles during his day, Elliott Sadler fought back to finish seventh. It could’ve been a disastrous run for him after bringing out a caution around the halfway point of the race.
Daniel Hemric would not be as lucky in his bid for the Xfinity Championship. He came in hot during a pit stop and slid through his pit box. With his nose hanging slightly over the edge of his pit stall’s boundary, the team changed the tyres on the right side of the car before moving him back within the allowable range. An official was there for the incident and he was assessed a one lap penalty that would ultimately relegate him to a finish of 20th and deal a major blow to his playoff hopes. He now finds himself seventh in the Playoff standings.
Brennan Poole holds the final playoff spot at the moment after a quiet day that ended in a 12th place finish. Matt Tifft gained some ground but remains five points back after he finished eighth. Ryan Reed’s 10th place finish leaves him six points back whilst Cole Custer had an unlucky tyre issue that stuck him back in 19th place and eight points outside of advancing to the Final Four.
The sport’s postseason competitors will continue to fight to keep their Playoff hopes alive next week when the series heads to Texas for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Last year, Cup Series regulars dominated the race but that won’t be the case this time around. Expect bold manoeuvres and hard racing as the final eight Playoff contenders try to earn as many points as they can with only three races remaining this year.