TRUCK SERIES PLAYOFF LEADER BELL EYES TEXAS SWEEP AT JAG METALS 350 DRIVING HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF
FORT WORTH, Texas (October 30, 2017) – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contender Christopher Bell is all smiles as he returns to Texas Motor Speedway for Friday’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief.
Bell, a native of nearby Norman, Okla., has reason to smile as he holds a comfortable points lead as he looks to secure a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The regular-season champion, who won at Texas in June, is looking to sweep both races in the season and punctuate what he hopes is a championship season.
“I feel great,” Bell said of entering this weekend’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief. “Texas, there is no better place to go. With the repave, it’s really fast. It’s always really tight racing. It’s one of my favorite race tracks to go to.”
Bell has stockpiled 47 Playoff points to provide some breathing room between him and driver Austin Cindric who sits at the cutoff line – 45 points back of Bell. With drivers in desperation mode, Bell understands the intensity on the track will reach a new high during the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief.
“You saw last year at the Playoff race at Texas, it was extremely intense and there was a lot of stuff going on and it’s a very pressure-filled race,” Bell said. “I expect this year’s JAG Metals 350 to be the same way. It’s going to be very, very intense and you’ll have to get that win to lock into Homestead. Thankfully, I have a lot of points built up so I’m not in the must-win situation, but there are a lot of guys that really need the win to take the pressure off for Phoenix.”
Bell led a race-high 92 laps en route to winning June’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. He is looking to become the third driver to sweep the Texas truck races since 2004 and first since Johnny Sauter in 2012.
“For me personally, Texas is my favorite track since I started racing in NASCAR,” Bell said. “Even with the repave (this year), my trucks have seemed to be good every time we’ve gone there. To win in the spring (summer) obviously gives me a little bit of extra confidence.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes to the track on Thursday for a pair of 55-minute practice sessions (2 and 4 p.m. CT). Salute to Veterans Qualifying Days Fueled by Texas Lottery for the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief is set for 3 p.m. Friday.
The battle for the final four spots in the quest for a championship continues Friday evening during the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief (7 p.m., TV: FOX Sports 1, Radio: MRN, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch locally). Tickets start at just $25 for adults and kids 12 and under get in free. Tickets are available by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
- FINAL ROUND
This weekend’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief marks the final visit to Texas Motor Speedway for Brad Keselowski Racing. The team, which has competed in the truck series since 2008, announced earlier this year it would suspend operations following the season.
The team looks to end on a high note as 19-year-old Austin Cindric remains in contention to earn a spot in the Championship 4. Cindric, who picked up his first career truck series victory in September at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, is 11 points back of fourth-place Ben Rhodes, who sits above the cutline.
Cindric’s teammate and fellow rookie Chase Briscoe nearly picked up a victory for the organization at Texas during June’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400. Briscoe finished runner-up to Christopher Bell in what amounted to a photo finish. Bell and Briscoe crossed the start/finish line neck-and-neck before the race’s final caution fell with Bell just narrowly ahead of Briscoe.
- VETERAN MOVE
While the young stars of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series have received much of the attention, it’s a pair of veterans that can return to the spotlight this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Championship contenders Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton both have favorable records when it comes to racing at Texas Motor Speedway. Sauter is the race’s defending winner and has three victories in all, the other two coming when he swept the 2012 season. He also has posted 14 top-10 finishes among his 18 career starts.
While Sauter’s stats remain impressive, Crafton could rival the numbers. Crafton has a pair of victories – winning the June race back to back in 2014 and ’15 – and arrives with a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes at Texas. In all, Crafton has 22 top-10 finishes in 33 career starts, the most among truck series drivers.
- EYES ON TEXAS
John Hunter Nemechek had a weekend to forget at Martinsville Speedway. Nemechek finished 30th in the 32-car field after brake failure caused him to slam into the outside wall and end his day.
The wreck not only damaged his car but also did severe damage to his championship aspirations, making his path to the Championship 4 even more difficult. Nemechek now faces a must-win situation as he enters Friday’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief. He is 28 points back of fourth place with two races remaining. While the order is tall, Nemechek is up to the challenge.
“We’re coming for them,” Nemechek said following the results at Martinsville. “They won’t know what’s going to hit them in Texas.”
Nemechek had top-five finishes in the first two stages of June’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, but finished 21st as a result of an accident. He owns one top-10 finish in four career starts at Texas, seventh in June of last year.
- GRADUATING TO VICTORY LANE
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ newest winner is looking to add to his list of memories at Texas Motor Speedway. Noah Gragson, who earned his first career victory last weekend at Martinsville, heads to Texas looking to build on that momentum.
Gragson’s most recent trip to Texas was one to remember. He started the day earning his first career NCWTS pole while setting a new qualifying record at Texas with a speed of 185.134 mph. Later, he was awarded his high school diploma during a special graduation ceremony during pre-race activities.