Kansas City, Kan. — Christopher Bell raced to his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday, beating dominant Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones after they made contract with four laps left at Kansas Speedway.
Bell led for just those four laps, hanging in second place behind Jones for much of the race before sliding in front of him shortly before the collision. After watching his teammate control the race for so long, the finish came as a surprise for Bell.
“I didn’t think winning was a possibility,” Bell said.
Jones (Byron, Michigan) had drifted to the top of the track before Bell attempted to slide past him underneath. Bell said after the race that he felt he was clear. Jones disagreed, complaining “it’s not dirt racing” in a television interview.
For two teammates to be in such a tight race for first is a dicey situation in and of itself, but for one to make a move like Bell did shows the true competitive nature of the sport.
“We both want to win, and that’s a product of it,” Bell said.
Jones led 186 laps of 200 laps, and won both of the first two stages. He failed to finish the race.
Bell, a regular in the Truck Series, and Jones are not eligible for the series playoffs.
Pole winner Tyler Reddick finished second, and Ryan Blaney was third.
Lewis Hamilton stormed through qualifying to grab pole position for the U.S. Grand Prix, with title rival Sebastian Vettel getting a big push on his final lap to grab second.
That sets up a Sunday duel as Hamilton chases a possible fourth career season championship. The Mercedes driver holds a 59-point lead over Vettel with four races to go and Vettel will be desperate to push for the win.
Hamilton has dominated the Circuit of the Americas, setting track records Friday and Saturday. He will be chasing his fourth consecutive win here and fifth overall since 2012.
Vettel had to out get on the front row in order to chase Hamilton into the critical first turn on Sunday. If he started the second row or lower, he risked getting blocked out and getting left behind.