Christopher Bell wins wild NASCAR Truck race at Gateway
MADISON, Ill. (AP) Christopher Bell had a few chances to get it right, and he made the most of the last of three re-starts.
Bell kept the lead in a two-lap sprint for his first victory of the season in the rain-delayed NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday night.
''I knew I had to get a good launch, and I did,'' Bell said.
The 20-year-old Bell earned the 50th victory in the series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, tied for the most with Roush Fenway Racing, and the third this season by three drivers. Ben Rhodes, the pole sitter in the 200-mile race, finished second.
''I learned a long, long time ago you're only as good as the race cars you're sitting in,'' Bell said.
Bell's second career victory in 16 truck series starts was his fifth top-10 finish this year. He finished eighth and 32nd the previous two races and worked his way up from ninth on Saturday.
''I think we've been kind of stressed,'' Bell said. ''We've been fast but we just haven't been able to capitalize. I've been making a lot of mistakes lately and used my fair share of mulligans.''
The runner-up finish was a career best for Rhodes, and Daniel Hemric was third.
''I had a really good run-off and he was coming up to try to block it, which is fine - it's the last lap,'' Rhodes said. ''I got close to him but we had a good run.''
The final delay at Gateway Motorsports near St. Louis lasted more than 12 minutes. It had entertainment value when John Wes Townley and Spencer Gallagher grappled with wrestling-style takedowns and exchanged punches.
''What a crazy race,'' Rhodes said. ''Crazy incidents on the track, crazy race. I don't know what else to say. Just crazy.''
The start was delayed about 1 1/2 hours by showers. Qualifying was canceled and practice times determined the grid. Bell didn't mind any of it.
The key: finding ''clean air.''
''I can't say that they really bothered me,'' Bell said. ''It's just a really crazy twist of events. I just tried to put myself in the best position where I could control my destiny a little better.''
Johnny Sauter was in the second position and passed Rhodes right away, then led the first 26 laps of the 160-lap event on the 1.25-mile oval. Tyler Reddick, who led for 41 laps, was knocked out in a chain reaction collision with 11 laps to go.
After nine races, rookie William Byron leads the standings by one point over Matt Crafton. Byron, Bell's teammate, won the previous two weeks and led for 47 laps in a bid for three in a row before finishing 17th.
''To say it's not frustrating would be a lie,'' Bell said. ''When your teammate is running good you feel like you should be running good, too.''
The series takes a week off before resuming in July 7 in Sparta, Kentucky.
Tanner Swanson won the USAC Silver Crown preliminary 60-lap event.