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Christopher Bell opens Truck playoffs by winning at New Hampshire

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LOUDON, New Hampshire — Christopher Bell passed Ryan Truex for the lead with 16 laps left and went on to win the opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff race Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The victory is the fifth of the season for Bell, the regular-season champion, and advances him to the second round. Bell, who started second, also won both stages Saturday.

“Now we can be more aggressive at Vegas and especially at Talladega and try to win the race,” Bell said of the next two races in the opening round of the playoffs.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points report 

Truex finished second to tie his career-best finish. Todd Gilliland placed a career-best third, overcoming a penalty for running over pit equipment early in the 175-lap race. Grant Enfinger was fourth. Stewart Friesen completed the top five. Four of the top five spots were taken by non-playoff drivers.

Defending series champion Johnny Sauter finished ninth. He was running seventh when he was struck in the passenger side door by a spinning Noah Gragson on Lap 64 and fought the truck’s handling after that.

“From there, it was try to fix it as best we could,” Sauter said. “Tailpipes were missing. You can’t compete at that level with that kind of damage. We’re just lucky it wasn’t something major. It could have been a spindle or a right front suspension.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christopher Bell

HOW CHRISTOPHER BELL WON: He simply had the best truck. After battling Ryan Truex for the lead late, Bell pulled away for the easy win.

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Runner-up Ryan Truex scored his fifth top-five finish in the last six races. … Todd Gilliland, making his fourth career series start, finished a career-best third. … Grant Enfinger placed fourth to record his second consecutive top-five finish. … After Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton was the next highest-finishing playoff driver. Crafton placed sixth.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: John Hunter Nemechek started 14th (worst among playoff drivers) and went to the garage on Lap 44 for a gear change. He lost more than 30 laps for repairs and finished 20th. … Pole-sitter Noah Gragson led 40 laps before spinning and suffering damage when he hit Johnny Sauter’s truck. Gragson finished 15th in the 29-truck field.

NOTABLE: This marked the first time in the last six Truck races at New Hampshire that the pole winner didn’t win the race.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s an honor to drive for you guys,’’ Christopher Bell told his Kyle Busch Motorsports team on the radio.

NEXT: Saturday, Sept. 30 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1)

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Kyle Larson wins preliminary event at Chili Bowl

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Kyle Larson won the A feature Tuesday night to advance to Saturday night’s A main at the Chili Bowl Nationals. It was his fifth preliminary event win at the Chili Bowl. Zach Daum finished second.

Larson took the lead on Lap 6 of the 25-lap feature and went on to the win.

MORE: Tuesday night race results from Chili Bowl

MORE: Monday night race results from Chili Bowl

“We’ll move on to Saturday and try to be better,” Larson said in the press conference afterward.

NBCSN broadcaster Dillon Welch finished seventh in the 24-car field. Alex Bowman placed ninth. Tanner Berryhill, who will be a Cup rookie this season, was 10th.

The Chili Bowl continues the rest of the week, culminating with Saturday night’s main event.

JJ Yeley, Landon Cassill and Rico Abreu are among the drivers scheduled to race Wednesday night at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, event.

Thursday’s racing will include two-time defending winner Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier and Karsyn Elledge, daughter of Kelley Earnhardt Miller. Kasey Kahne and Tanner Thorson are among those scheduled to race Friday.

Thorson won Tuesday night’s Race of Champions. Larson was second, Bell placed third and Yeley was fifth in that event.

 

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports dominate Lionel’s best-selling diecasts for 2018

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2018 was a really good year for Hendrick Motorsports — on the diecast market.

Lionel Racing revealed Tuesday that despite having its fewest Cup wins in 25 years, Hendrick Motorsports dominated its top 10 best-selling diecasts last year.

Anchored by five Chase Elliott diecasts, HMS claimed the top eight spots.

Elliott, who scored Hendrick’s only three Cups wins and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver, tops the list with his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet.

All three of Elliott’s race win diecasts are on the list, with his first career Cup win at Watkins Glen coming in at No. 2.

Hendrick is represented by all four of its drivers on the list with Jimmie Johnson, William Byron and Alex Bowman each having one diecast in the top 10.

Kyle Larson‘s No. 42 Credit One Chevrolet is eighth and Kevin Harvick‘s No. 4 Busch Beer Ford is 10th.

Here’s the full list:

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Wayne Carroll to serve as Landon Cassill’s crew chief, Tony Furr moves to ARCA team

Landon Cassill. Photo: Getty Images.
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StarCom Racing has named Wayne Carroll as crew chief for driver Landon Cassill in the 2019 Cup season, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Carroll served as crew chief for 12 Cup races last season on StarCom Racing’s No. 99 car, working with several drivers including Derrike Cope, Gray Gaulding, Kyle Weatherman and three races with Cassill.

After leasing a charter from Richard Childress Racing for the No. 00 last season, StarCom purchased the charter for the same car for this season. The No. 00 and 99 will also have ECR motors under the hood for both Cassill and teammate Derrike Cope.

Also, Tony Furr, who served as crew chief for both Cassill and Jeffrey Earnhardt last season with StarCom, has accepted a similar position with Mullins Racing in the ARCA Racing Series, the team announced Tuesday.

Tony Furr, right, and team owner/driver Willie Mullins. Photo: Dinah Marie.

Furr will serve as crew chief for the No. 3 Mullins Racing Ford driven by team owner and 2018 Daytona ARCA runner-up Willie Mullins in the ARCA Racing Series season-opening Lucas Oil 200 on Feb. 9 at Daytona International Speedway.

Furr has spent much of his career in the Cup Series, working with numerous stars including Bill Elliott, Joe Nemechek, John Andretti, Ward Burton, Jerry Nadeau and others.

Furr has two Cup Series wins as a crew chief, one with Andretti in the summer race at Daytona in 1997 and one with Nadeau at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2000.

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Public memorial service for J.D. Gibbs set for Jan. 25

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A public memorial service for J.D. Gibbs will be held at 11:30 a.m. ET Jan. 25 at Davidson College’s John M. Belk Arena in Davidson, North Carolina. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

Gibbs, the eldest son of car owner Joe Gibbs, died Jan. 11 after a battle with a degenerative neurological disease. J.D. Gibbs was 49.

On a website honoring Gibbs’ legacy, it states that in lieu of flowers, the Gibbs family requests donations to the J.D. Gibbs Legacy Fund. The fund has been established to honor Gibbs and his passion for the Young Life Ministry, which he served as a member of the National Board.

The J.D. Gibbs Legacy Fund has two specific objectives that reflect J.D.’s passion for outreach:

  1. To ensure “every kid” in the greater Charlotte region can be reached with the gospel, the Fund will provide the support necessary to reach adolescents from all socioeconomic backgrounds, those with special needs, and teen moms.
  2. Young Life’s Windy Gap Camp in the mountains of N.C. has been a favorite of J.D.’s and his family for many years. Windy Gap is located just 15 miles north of Asheville, N.C. and the Fund will be used to support the construction of a new dining hall as well as additional facility improvements.