Christopher Bell Hoping the Third Time is the Charm

r Saturday's fred's 250 looking to checkout of the Alabama track with his first restrictor-plate victory.
Last year in just the fifth start of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, and first at a superspeedway, Bell proved to be a quick learner of the intricacies of restrictor-plate racing as he spent 91 of the 98 laps inside the top 15. Experiencing the aerodynamics of the draft for the first time, the open-wheel dirt standout started from the 10th spot, recorded an average running position of 9.7 and in the closing laps had maneuvered his way into the top five.
The Oklahoma native was scored in the fourth position for a restart with just four laps remaining. He got a strong restart and helped push Brandon Jones to the lead, but NASCAR ruled that he "engaged" the bumper of Jones' truck and issued a pass-through penalty. Just before he was going to serve his penalty, a multi-truck wreck brought out the caution, which forced him to restart in the 15th position, at the tail end of the field, for the green-white-checkered finish. Before the race ended under caution, the rookie driver was able to pick up two positions and left his superspeedway debut with a respectable 13th-place finish.
Bell's second superspeedway start came in the 2016 Truck Series season-opening event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Once again the talented youngster showed great poise and was positioned within striking distance for the win in the closing laps. After narrowly escaping the first "big one" with eight laps remaining, the No. 4 Tundra lined up in the fourth spot for NASCAR overtime. He helped "bump draft" Johnny Sauter to the lead and was scored in the second spot when the field took the white flag. Unfortunately, mayhem ensued shortly after and Bell's JBL Toyota ended up upside down at the entrance to Turn 1 after experiencing double-digit flips end-over-end. When lineup was sorted and the official results were posted, he was credited with an 11th-place finish.
The 21-year-old Rookie of the Year candidate comes into the final race of the Round of 8 in the inaugural Truck Series Chase sitting second in the point standings after posting top-10 finishes in each of the first two events. Another top-10 finish on Saturday will earn him a spot in the Round of 6, but Bell is hoping that his third time racing on a superspeedway will be the charm and he locks himself into the next round with a victory.

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Steven B. Wilson

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