Motors: Christopher Bell races third straight NASCAR Xfinity victory
Christopher Bell made history Saturday at Iowa Speedway — even though nearly everything that could go against him did down the stretch.
Bell moved back out front in overtime to win a wild NASCAR Xfinity series race on Newton’s bull ring, becoming the first series regular with three straight victories since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999.
Coming off victories in Kentucky and New Hampshire, Bell led 94 of 257 laps. He broke a tie with Cup driver Kyle Larson for the series season victory lead with four.
“When it’s your day, it’s your day,” Bell said. “I’ll take them any way I can get them, man.”
Bell fell back to fourth in the first attempt at overtime before a red flag halted the race. He retook control in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 car, going low to beat Justin Allgaier —the winner of the June race at Iowa.
Allgaier was second, followed by Kyle Benjamin and Ross Chastain.
Bell seized the top spot early in the final stage and, after a clean final pit stop, seemed set to cruise to a victory if the race stayed green.
It didn’t, and Bell nearly got knocked out of the race in the first of three late incidents that set up a thrilling finish.
Bell avoided a near-disastrous crash with 14 laps left when Chase Briscoe spun out right in front of him. Bell somehow kept the No. 20 largely clean, and he held first on a restart with nine laps left before Garrett Smithley spun out to draw another flag that brought on overtime.
Allgaier got the best of the field on that restart though, emerging from the pack on the high groove to grab the lead. That wouldn’t last, as Max Tullman and Matt Tifft drew the red flag with a big crash before the first overtime lap could be completed.
When the race resumed, Bell and Allgaier rubbed cars before Bell jumped ahead.
“(Bell) drove into me and tried to put me into the wall,” Allgaier said. “It’s disappointing to be in that position, especially when you think you know how somebody is going to race you unfortunately that’s Iowa. And (Bell) definitely had the best car. No questions asked.”
Elliott Sadler started on the pole for the first time since Indianapolis in 2017. Cole Custer beat Sadler on the first restart of the race, which came after an early caution, and picked up his first stage win and playoff point.
Custer continued his strong run in the second stage. But Bell, who had moved to within less than a car length of Custer, slipped down to the inside line and finally passed Custer with five laps to go. It was the fourth stage win of the season for Bell, who now leads the point standings by 16 over Sadler.
It was the seventh victory at Iowa for Joe Gibbs Racing and the first for Bell.
“I was just praying for no yellow (flags) there on that long green flag run. When it came, it just became time to execute on restarts. I let one get away on me, but this thing was so good I was able to come from the second row,” Bell said.
Benjamin, in his final scheduled start of the season in JGR’s No. 18 car, posted his second top-10 finish in three tries at Iowa.
Kyle Busch matches Hornaday for career Truck Series wins
Kyle Busch stood on the window ledge of his truck, raised his arms in triumph and then slapped an appropriate number on the roof for a record-tying celebration.
Driving the No. 51 Toyota, Busch won his 51st career race in Trucks — matching the series record.
Busch held off Erik Jones down the stretch to win the NASCAR Trucks race Saturday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., and tie the record for most career wins in the series.
“It’s kind of funny the way the numbers work out, isn’t it?” Busch said.
Busch matched NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Ron Hornaday Jr. on the list with 51 wins. Hornaday needed 296 starts to reach his 51st win; Busch won his in just his 145th career start. Hornaday made 360 career starts and failed to win a race in his last three seasons.
Busch also won for the 191st time over the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series.
Busch, the 2015 NASCAR Cup champion, is not scheduled to race in Trucks for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team again this season. He battled side-by-side with Jones during the last 10 laps. But Busch shook off Jones and pulled away over the final laps and won for the second time in the series this season.
Noah Gragson, who won this season at Kansas, was scratched because of a stomach virus. Jones subbed for Gragson and made his first start in the series in two years.
Hamilton masters rain to take F1 pole
Lewis Hamilton showed again he’s untouchable in the rain, producing a brilliant last lap to take pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff could hardly believe it as he watched from the team motorhome, clutching his head in disbelief as Hamilton beat Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas’ time to secure a record-extending 77th pole position in Formula One.
Hamilton put his exceptional performance in difficult track conditions down to an intuitive feel for the car.
Bubba Wallace signs extension with RPM
Bubba and the King are sticking together.
Richard Petty Motorsports has signed rookie driver Darrell Wallace Jr. to a two-year contract extension through 2020. More commonly known by his childhood nickname “Bubba,” Wallace was second in the Daytona 500 for the highest finish for a black driver in the race.
“We like a little bit of what he’s doing so I think we’re going to hire him again for next year,” Petty said Saturday at Pocono Raceway.
Wallace has only one other top-10 finish in his first 20 races and hasn’t finished better than 14th over his last 13 races driving the No. 43 Chevrolet for RPM. He has led laps this season at Bristol, Pocono and Talladega Superspeedway.
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