Christopher Bell held off a last-lap surge by Ben Rhodes to win Saturday’s wild Drivin’ for Linemen 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Bell earned his second career series win, having also won last year at Eldora. He also scored Kyle Busch Motorsports’ 50th Truck Series win, which ties Roush-Fenway Racing for the record for most all-time in the series by a team owner.
MORE: Townley, Gallagher wreck, wrestle and then slug it out after Gateway wreck
MORE: Results of Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 Truck race at Gateway
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“This one is for my guys,” said Bell, who led 38 of 160 laps, in victory lane to Fox Sports 1. “They deserve this one. We’ve been so fast all year long and I kept making a lot of mistakes. Track position was everything.”
So was Bell’s determination on the final restart with two laps left. Rhodes challenged Bell but the latter’s Toyota was just a bit stronger than Rhodes’ Toyota. One of the biggest keys to the win was how he ran his line in the last two laps following the final restart, Bell said.
“I figured the safest thing was to run the bottom because I knew my truck was turning pretty good,” he said.
Rhodes, who started on the pole, finished second, followed by Daniel Hemric, Johnny Sauter and Erik Jones.
“(Bell) did an awesome job all night,” Rhodes said to FS1. “He raced everybody clean and with respect and we could use a little more of that in this series after this crazy Drivin’ for Linemen 200.”
Rhodes’ calling the race “crazy” was fitting — there were six wrecks, including one with six laps left that saw John Wes Townley exit his truck and then go after Spencer Gallagher (who was also in the wreck), putting him in a headlock, wrestling him to the ground and punching Gallagher.
William Byron, who won the last two Truck races, finished 17th.
HOW BELL WON: Bell took the lead on Lap 153, waited out the red flag and caution periods for the John Wes Townley/Spencer Gallagher wreck, fight and clean-up, and refused to give up the lead to Ben Rhodes when the race resumed with two laps left.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Rhodes earned a Truck Series career-best second-place finish. … Defending Truck Series champ Erik Jones, making his first start of the season in a truck (he now races full-time in the Xfinity Series) rallied from an early wreck with Cameron Hayley to finish fifth. … Jordan Anderson bounced back from a late wreck to finish 11th.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After wrecking his primary truck in practice earlier in the day, Rico Abreu suffered clutch problems prior to the start of the race. His team fixed the problem, but Abreu was unable to finish higher than 14th. … Engine issues forced Brandon Brown to fail to start the race and was scored last in the 32-truck field. … It’s likely John Wes Townley will face penalties for wrestling and punching Spencer Gallagher on the racing surface after their late-race crash.
NOTABLE: The race was red flagged for six minutes, 30 seconds on Lap 120 when Jordan Anderson, Austin Wayne Self and Jennifer Jo Cobb were involved in a wreck. After Anderson and Self got together, Self’s truck was hit broadside by Cobb, with both trucks sustaining heavy damage. … Teammates Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric were battling for fifth place when they made slight contact on Lap 72 and Hemric went spinning, sustaining just minor damage. Hemric rebounded to finish third, while Reddick finished 25th. … The start of the race was delayed nearly 90 minutes to dry the track after rain.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I had a blast tonight. Career-best finish of second is great, but after tasting (a chance at victory) for four times now and haven’t been able to go home and get it, that’s been tough, but hopefully here soon. We’re just going to keep pushing forward.” – Ben Rhodes, who finished second.
WHAT’S NEXT: The series has next weekend off before resuming Thursday, July 7, at Kentucky Speedway (green flag is 8:30 p.m. ET).