Bristol, Tenn. — Christopher Bell earned his first career Bristol Motor Speedway victory and a $100,000 bonus with the Xfinity Series win Saturday.
Bell got his second victory of the season, his 10th in 48 starts, by passing Brandon Jones with 17 laps remaining. Jones had a tire issue that sent him to the wall and then to pit road, and Bell didn’t have another challenger in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
The race was the first of four in sponsor Xfinity’s bonus program that qualifies four drivers for the $100,000 bonus in designated events. Cup drivers were not eligible to race at all Saturday so Kyle Busch, winner of three Xfinity Series races this season, was sidelined – giving fans their wish to limit Busch’s competition in lower series.
He wasn’t happy about it, either, and said he wouldn’t even watch. He has nine wins so far this season spanning all three of NASCAR’s national series.
“Hopefully all the fans that have packed this place today and everybody who is going to turn on a TV and watch because Kyle Busch ain’t in the race will enjoy a great race,” Busch said.
Tyler Reddick finished second in a Chevrolet sponsored by Dolly Parton and the country music icon’s many businesses. Reddick donned a long blond, curly wig in driver introductions, then climbed into his pink-and-white Parton-themed car.
Cole Custer was third in a Ford.
Japan’s Sato grabs Indy pole
Takuma Sato will start from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing grabbed the first two spots.
Sato claimed the eighth pole of his career , beating out teammate Graham Rahal. It was Sato’s first pole since 2017 at Pocono. That’s the year the Japanese driver won the Indianapolis 500.
Team Penske was shut out of the Fast Six qualifying group for the first time since Long Beach in 2014.
Penske had dominated at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course, with six victories in nine years, but had rare qualifying struggles.
That included two-time winner and four-time pole sitter Will Power, two-time defending champion and series points leader Josef Newgarden, and Simon Pagenaud, who won in 2016.
Five-time race runner-up Scott Dixon qualified third, followed by James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais and Spencer Pigot. Pigot had never made the Fast Six.