Bell survives wild race, Claims third win of 2017

Christopher Bell survived an accident and an early spin to win Thursday night’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Bell picked up his third victory of the season, his first at Kentucky and the fifth of his career, holding off runner-up Brandon Jones by .187 seconds at the end of a closing 32-lap green-flag run.

“This is pretty special,” Bell said in Victory Lane. “We had our ups and downs. Practice (on Wednesday) didn’t go very well, but we had a really fast Tundra, and (crew chief) Rudy Fugle made great calls from the pit box after I made a mistake and spun out.”

That mistake came on Lap 27, with Bell spinning out of control in his No. 4 KBM Toyota. But by the time pit strategies sorted out for a restart on Lap 83, Bell was back at the front of the field.

Jones had his own issues, going a lap down after NASCAR penalized him for failure to line up in proper position for a restart. But he returned to the lead lap with a free pass as the highest scored lapped car and took the fight to Bell for the final 35 laps of the race after passing John Hunter Nemechek for the second spot on Lap 114 of 150.

During the final 10 laps, Jones closed to the rear bumper of Bell’s Toyota, but couldn’t find a way around his him.

“I was trying everything I knew to do in there,” said Jones, who has three second-place finishes in the Truck Series but hasn’t won a race. “Just trying to play mind games with him and trick him out some, but he had a hotrod, too.”

Rookie Justin Haley finished third, followed by Austin Cindric and Stage 2 winner Noah Gragson, who passed his boss, Kyle Busch, in the closing laps to nail down the fifth spot.

Defending series champion Johnny Sauter finished ninth and retained the series lead by 28 points over Bell.

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