DOVER, Del. – Christopher Bell won the Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway, where the Xfinity Series playoff field was sliced from 12 to eight drivers Saturday.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who also won the first-round opener at Richmond Raceway, set a series rookie record with his sixth victory, breaking a mark he previously shared with Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
“It’s been a career year for me,” Bell told NBCSN. “All credit to Joe Gibbs Racing. We have really fast race cars every time I go to the racetrack.”
Ross Chastain just missed advancing by three points, falling out of contention as Matt Tifft gained four points over the final 25 laps after the last restart. The final caution flew after Chastain bumped Tifft into Chase Briscoe, who skidded up the track and into the SAFER barrier. Tifft rallied when the race returned to green, making enough passes to advance.
Along with Chastain, Ryan Truex, Ryan Reed and Brandon Jones were eliminated from the playoffs.
Chastain had entered the playoffs as a major underdog despite scoring his first career win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Chip Ganassi Racing. He returned to his underfunded JD Motorsports ride the past two races but still was in the hunt to advance through the checkered flag at Dover.
“Too many mistakes on my part,” said Chastain, who was penalized for speeding on his final stop. “But I’m not sorry at all. This is awesome. I don’t apologize for what I do on the racetrack. I bring my friends with me. We’ve got a lot to be proud about.”
Tifft hit Chastain’s car on the cooldown lap but claimed afterward that it was by accident.
“He was doing what he had to do,” Tifft said. “I just ended up on the receiving end of it on that time. I had to force my way through a couple cars toward the end to make sure we advanced.
“Of course, I’m upset because I’m on the receiving side. This is why we have the playoffs because it creates that excitement and intensity. It’s going to happen to one of us.”
Tifft advanced to the next round with Bell, Cole Custer, who finished second, Justin Allgaier (third), Tyler Reddick, Elliott Sadler, Austin Cindric and Daniel Hemric, the pole-sitter.
Hemric led the 20 laps, won the second stage and was in the running for his first career win before a speeding penalty during the caution after Stage 2 dropped him to 19th with 104 laps to go. The Richard Childress Racing driver finished seventh.
“That’s unacceptable,” Hemric, who also was penalized for speeding last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, told NBCSN. “I’ve got a lot of things to clean up on my end.”
Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell
Stage 2 winner: Daniel Hemric
What’s next: Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway, 3 p.m., Oct. 20 on NBC