Xfinity playoffs

Christopher Bell wins at Dover; Ross Chastain eliminated from playoffs

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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

NASCAR America: Justin Allgaier and Christopher Bell are evenly matched

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It didn’t take long for Christopher Bell to get his invitation to Round 2 of the Xfinity playoffs. Taking the lead from Matt Tifft with 14 laps remaining in last week’s race at Richmond, he held the advantage till the checkered flag waved and scored his fifth win of the season.

That victory was notable for another reason: Bell tied Justin Allgaier for the most wins on the season with five apiece.

“We all felt like going into this season that Christopher Bell was going to show the talent level that he had,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “We’d seen it in Trucks, but in the Xfinity Series we were waiting to see him go up there and see him command for a championship. And now we’ve seen it.”

Allgaier could very well advance to Round 2 of the playoffs this week at the Charlotte Roval to keep this game of one-upmanship going. He’s won the last two road course races (Mid-Ohio and Road America).

“What’s been most so impressive for Justin Allgaier this year is that it’s been a career year,” Kligerman said. “And for so many years, we’ve seen him be a part of the Xfinity Series and be good for one or two wins a year. But to go out there and get five wins, five runner-up finishes … 15 top-five finishes … laps led 612 and a 1.7 average finish on road courses as we head to the Roval; it’s been an incredible year for him.”

Allgaier’s numbers have been impressive – but Bell has been just as remarkable with an almost identical record.

Allgaier and Bell are tied for wins and top-five finishes (15). Allgaier holds a slight advantage in second-place finishes with five to Bell’s four. Allgaier has led more laps: 612 to Bell’s 506 so far this season.

For more, watch the video above.

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