As the running order in the top 10 shuffled at an almost interchangeable pace at the Circuit City 250 at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, one thing stayed constant: Christopher Bell had the lead.
Bell led 186 and was fast from the start, eventually pulling away from second-place Cole Custer and even winning the second stage of the race by 5.99 seconds.
Not only did Bell win his fourth race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season, he earned his second win at Iowa in a row and his third top three at the short track.
Xfinity: Christopher Bell dominates again, winning at Iowa
“We just had really good pit stops, made really good adjustments and [our car] was extremely fast,” Bell said. “Really late in the run, we were really good. That’s a ‘hats off’ to Jason [Ratcliffe].”
At this point last season, Bell had only one win in the series, and he finished the year with seven.
It begged the question of if Bell is ready to make the move to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Though, Bell wanted no part of the answer.
“That’s not really my place to talk,” Bell said. “I’ll let Steve answer that.”
Bell’s referring to Steve DeSouza, the executive vice president of the Xfinity and Development programs at Joe Gibbs Racing.
DeSouza opted not to answer the question and Bell explained why he didn’t want to comment.
“Last year, I think my answer got taken out of context. I got in a bit of trouble,” Bell said.
But, Bell expanded on what he wanted to say.
“I never really dreamed to be racing NASCAR,” Bell said. “My goal was not to be a NASCAR cup racer. My goal was to make a living driving a race car. If I’m truck racing, sprint car racing, or midget racing, I’ve already exceeded and fulfilled my dream. Whether I’m running Xfinity or Cup [next year], I’ll be happy.”
Later, DeSouza was asked again.
“Our job here is to expose great talent and develop good racers” DeSouza said. “Christopher, obviously, right now is at the top of the chart or one of them. So, I would say our job on the Xfinity side is to develop and expose.”
DeSouza and JGR’s three drivers on the track were one spot away from seeing each of them in the top 10.
“We have a lot of good competitors out there right now, hopefully we can continue that. I think that’s a great example today with Jason and the No. 20 team to make sure their car was well prepared,” DeSouza said. “We try to do that with every car. That’s our goal is to advance each of them.”
Harrison Burton even brought the No. 18 car home in P4.
With 29 laps remaining, Burton jumped on the restart and managed to get up to fourth from P10 in less than 12 laps.
“It was a lot of fun,” Burton said. “I had a car that fired off really well. It fired off loose, but it was fast. It was fun to hold on to it and pass guys with it. That helped me a lot.”
Burton was participating in his second Xfinity series race of his career, part of a limited schedule he is racing for JGR in his first year at the level.
His first and only other result came at Bristol earlier this season, where Burton finished P10.
Now, he officially has a top 10 streak.
“I just started going where they were not and driving as hard as I could and things worked out,” Burton said. “It was a good feeling to pass all these cars today, I just wish we could have passed three more.”
The result came hours after Burton finished P3 in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Series race.
Both finishes come in a recent string of success where the North Carolina native has been instrumental in his racing the since his boss, Kyle Busch, had some criticisms for it.
Burton says it’s unrelated, though.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily his words,” Burton said. “I think it’s myself more than anything. I’m probably harder on myself than he is on me. I was getting to be in a really good rhythm today.”
Another team that flashed their leather on Sunday afternoon was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports squad.
Each of their four drivers finished in the top nine spots after Noah Gragson used a late ‘Lucky dog’ to get back on the lead lap and finish P6.
“Something happened, I dont know,” Gragson said. “We ran two or three laps down the whole day and somehow miraculously came back and finished sixth.”
The series is back in action after a bye week at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
Bell said he thinks it could foreshadow a big moment for this season, as well.
“I know Chicago is going to be a big test for Homestead, so hopefully we can go there with some speed,” Bell said.
The race will be named the Camping World 300 and will be televised on NBCSN with a scheduled green flag for 3:00 p.m. ET.
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