Christopher Bell won the battle that counted by a few feet — and that small victory launched him to his third NASCAR Xfinity Series triumph of the season in the Allied Steel Buildings 200 at Dover International Speedway.
Bell’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was first off pit road after a Lap 155 stop under caution, narrowly beating Cole Custer, who had led the first 155 laps of Saturday’s race. The work of Bell’s pit crew proved decisive, as the 24-year-old from Norman, Okla., controlled the race through two more restarts and beat Justin Allgaier to the finish line by 1.745 seconds.
Bell had already crossed the stripe before Zane Smith and John Hunter Nemechek wrecked coming to the checkered flag.
In addition to a gold Miles the Monster trophy, Bell collected a check for $100,000 as the final Dash 4 Cash winner of the season.
“Over the last couple of races, we’ve had great cars, but we haven’t been able to capitalize on it,” said Bell, who won for the second straight time at Dover and the 11th time in his career. “This one is really thanks to my pit crew, man. They did a great job, getting me out front where I could control the restarts.
“I knew if I could get out front, we’d be tough to beat. This place, you can pass on long green-flag runs, and it’s one of my favorite race tracks because you can move around and try to find different lines and get going. But over the short run, it’s pretty difficult to make something happen because there is so much grip on the bottom.”
After losing the lead on pit road, Custer was shuffled back on three successive restarts, drawing the bottom lane each time. He finished fourth behind Bell, Allgaier and series leader Tyler Reddick, and expressed his disappointment after the race.
“It’s really frustrating when you lead that many laps,” Custer said. “You just can’t give up your track position here. Everybody wants to win at Dover. It’s about the hardest track to pass that we go to… It’s just so frustrating. We were so good, and we couldn’t take advantage of a great car today.”
For Allgaier, who suffered late contact with the outside wall and with Reddick’s Chevrolet, the runner-up finish was a welcome result in an inconsistent season that has produced an average finish of 14.7.
“The car took a beating and kept going,” Allgaier said. “Our Camaro was good today, but it wasn’t great. I wanted to be able to battle there with Christopher at the end, but we were just off a little bit all day.”
Chase Briscoe ran fifth as the highest-finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, followed by Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, Nemechek, Smith and Michael Annett.