Christopher Bell worked his way from his 13th starting position in Saturday's LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn to run inside the top five in the final two stages and contend for a win in the closing laps.
After riding in the second position behind Austin Cindric for several laps, the Oklahoma native decided it was time to make his move with 11 laps to go. He dove to the inside and momentarily took the lead, but as Bell and Cindric were trading paint down the backstretch, Darrell Wallace Jr. dove to the inside of both of them into Turn 3 and ended up clearing them both for the lead.
Wallace Jr., a former Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) driver, would hold on for the final 10 laps to pick up his first Truck Series win since picking a victory for KBM in the 2014 Truck Series finale at Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway.
With his runner-up finish and Johnny Sauter finishing 18th, Bell was able to extend his lead in the regular season standings to 37 points over the reigning champion with three races remaining before the start of the Truck Series playoffs.
Stage One Recap:
- Bell started from the 13th position and with passing at a premium in the early stages was only able to work his way to a 10th-place finish at the end of Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- After communicating that his JBL/SiriusXM Tundra needed to be "a little bit tighter," Bell was summoned to pit road by crew chief Rudy Fugle. The over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a chassis adjustment and returned their driver to the track scored in the 10th position for the start of Stage Two.
- The field went green on lap 36 and the talented wheelman wasted no time making a charge toward the front of the field. One lap into the Stage he had catapulted to the sixth position and on lap 38 he settled into the fifth spot.
- Bell was running in the fourth spot when a caution slowed the field on lap 52 and allowed Fugle to make a strategy move to set his driver up with track position for the final stage. The JBL/SiriusXM Tundra hit pit road for the final set of sticker tires, which would allow the team to make a speedy fuel-only stop at the end of Stage Two.
- Other competitors made the same call and Bell restarted from the 10th spot on the lap-55 restart. He shot like a cannon up the outside line and as the field crossed the stripe on lap 56 was in the third position, where he would remain when the field took the green checkered to complete Stage Two.
Final Stage Recap:
- After topping off with fuel, Bell returned to the track scored in the third position, behind a pair of trucks that did not pit. He made his way up to the runner-up position on a restart with 18 laps remaining and tucked in behind Austin Cindric waiting for an opportunity to make a pass for the lead.
- With 11 laps remaining Bell decided it was time to go and dove to the inside of Cindric off of Turn 2. The two drivers traded paint down the backstretch and while they were focused on each other, Wallace Jr made a move from the third position around both of them and took the lead.
- Bell fell to the third position, but with the help of KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch made his way back around Cindric for the second spot but wasn't to work his way around Wallace Jr, despite making a valiant effort to dive to the inside of him off the exit of Turn 2 on the final lap.