NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Christopher Bell Emerges Victorious from Texas Carnage

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In a Nutshell: Christopher Bell emerged from the late-race carnage victorious over Chase Briscoe in a caution-filled Winstaronlinegaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. The driver of the No. 4 Toyota led a race-high 92 laps en route to his second win of the season. Grant Enfinger brought his No. 98 ThorSport Toyota home third. Ryan Truex and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top 10.

Who Should Have Won: Bell clearly had the truck to beat Thursday when teams unloaded for a trio of practice sessions. Fast forward to qualifying on Friday, and an error by the team in not removing the cowl cover saw the No. 4 post the 21st-quickest lap. But once the green flag flew, there was no doubt Bell would be in the conversation for the win when he drove inside the top five within the first 10 laps. Though pit strategy

Late contact between Timothy Peters and Austin Wayne Self saw Peters come to rest on his roof right as the leaders took the white flag. Though Twitter was undecided about who won, NASCAR determined the white flag had already thrown and Bell was ahead of Briscoe, who had chased him for much of the closing laps at the time the yellow flew. Steve Odonnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR offered a still image of the video feed at the exact moment the caution flew.

Chase Briscoe Strong Run Without Regular Crew Chief

Last weekend at Dover, Chase Briscoe’s left front tire fell off of the truck following a pit stop, thanks to the jackman dropping the truck before the tire had been secured. The resulting penalty saw the driver of the No. 29 Ford lose crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., along with his right front tire carrier and tire changer for four races.

But Briscoe wasn’t going to let that stop him.

After qualifying 12th, he worked his way through the field and spent much of the second half of the race chasing the leaders. Officially, he led two laps but could never really make the pass stick for good. As the laps wound down Friday night, it looked like Briscoe and leader Christopher Bell were set up for an exciting race to the finish, but a last-lap caution ended that battle, leaving Briscoe to settle for a career-best runner-up finish.

Briscoe, in just seven career Truck Series races, has three top fives, one pole and an average finish of 10th. He currently sits fourth in the series standings.

Quick Hits

  • While most of the focus was on the leaders throughout the night Friday, Travis Kvapil quietly had one of his best runs in recent history. Piloting the No. 66 Bolen Motorsports Chevrolet for the first time, the 2003 champion kept the truck out of trouble and ended up with an 11th-place result in his third start this season.
  • Just one week after posting his career-best finish at Dover, Austin Cindric made an early exit from Texas. Only four laps in, he got loose and slid up to the outside wall, causing substantial back end damage. Though the team worked to repair the damage, it turned out to be terminal and Cindric was forced to settle for a 25th-place finish.

  • Rookie Noah Gragson had a roller-coaster of a night at Texas Motor Speedway Friday. Shortly before being presented his high school diploma by track president Eddie Gossage, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota scored his first career pole. He led twice for 13 laps – his first laps led in the series – but a loose wheel sent him down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop under green right around the 100-lap mark. To make matters worse, Gragson was busted for speeding entering the pits and dropped two laps down after serving the penalty. A combination of late cautions and attrition allowed him to recover to a respectable seventh-place finish, though it was far from his expectations for the night.

“I don’t know how we ended up seventh,” he explained. “Started on the pole really good and felt like as the night came it loosened up a little bit and we were already on the side of being loose, so just really hard to race in traffic. We came down pit road multiple times, went laps down, but we kept on fighting and that was through a lot of adversity today. I’m shocked that we’re back up here to seventh. Just kept on fighting and that’s really what our team’s been about this year.”

  • After having his team abruptly shut down right after Charlotte, Timothy Peters landed with MDM Motorsports for Friday night’s race. He had a solid top-10 run going for the organization when contact with Austin Wayne Self sent him into the grass and flipping, before coming to a rest on the frontstretch grass. Peters emerged unhurt and was credited with a 13th-place finish.

LUNKENHEIMER: Timothy Peters Walks Away From Scary Texas Crash

Truck Rookie Report
2017 Rookie of the Year Candidates
No. 13 Cody Coughlin
No. 18 Noah Gragson
No. 19 Austin Cindric
No. 29 Chase Briscoe
No. 33 Kaz Grala
No. 49 Wendell Chavous
No. 52 Stewart Friesen

No. of rookies in the race: 7

No. of rookies to finish in the top 10: 5; Chase Briscoe, finished second; Grant Enfinger, finished third; Justin Haley, finished sixth; Noah Gragson, finished seventh; Kaz Grala, finished 10th

Rookie of the Race: Chase Briscoe

Points Update: After leading twice for 49 laps, Johnny Sauter maintained the point lead by 40 over race winner Christopher Bell. Matt Crafton is third, followed by rookie Chase Briscoe, who finished runner-up. Ben Rhodes, who scored his second consecutive top-five finish, rounds out the top five.

Ryan Truex, who snagged his fifth straight top 10, is sits sixth, followed by Grant Enfinger. Kaz Grala holds the eighth and final spot in the provisional playoff field. Timothy peters and rookie Noah Gragson round out the top 10.

Quotable:

“Man, it’s just all aero. First off, I want to make sure everyone is okay. It’s kind of a sorrow victory here in victory lane. That was a pretty bad flip and I’ve taken my fair share of flips and it hurts a lot worse whenever it’s in the grass like that one was, so I hope he’s (Timothy Peters) okay. That’s the most important part. But second of all, we’re in Victory Lane, so it’s just a dream come true to be able to win here in Texas – my hometown , all of the Tundras are built right here in Texas – so it’s a huge win for us, everybody at Toyota and Toyota Racing Development. Man, our JBL Tundra was super, super good.” Christopher Bell

“Overall, it was a really, really solid weekend. Probably the best overall weekend from start of practice to end of the race we’ve had this year. Really proud of the effort we made. We had good speed. We were a little tight at the beginning of the race, but at the end of the race I feel like we were as good as anybody. We struggled with track position for whatever reason, but feel good about things going into the main part of the season. For the past few races, we’ve been getting better and better.” Grant Enfinger, finished third

“I can smell the win, man. I can see it. I’ve got thank H.E.B. Grocery Store, Bar Harbor, Sea Watch, Toyota – we had a good Tundra again and, man, it seemed like I could turn under anybody off of Turn 2. That was like our strong suit. [I] felt like I could have given the 29 (Chase Briscoe) and 4 (Christopher Bell) a shot if I could of got them three wide. I just couldn’t get the restart and me and Grant (Enfinger) were just bouncing of each other’s door for third. I thanked him for racing me clean. He’s a great guy to race with. He’ll race you hard when it’s on the line, but until then he’s a clean racer and I really enjoy racing with him. It’s baby steps, man. We’re getting closer and closer and we’re going to win one of these things soon.” Ryan Truex, finished fourth

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Gateway Motorsports Park next Saturday night. Coverage for the Drivin’ for Linemen 200 begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

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