Christopher Bell holds off Matt Crafton to win CWTS race at AMS
Christopher Bell had the dominant truck in Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But he had to battle to wrest the lead back from Matt Crafton with 16 laps to go and then held Crafton off on a wild final restart with three laps remaining to secure the win in the Camping World Truck Series race.
“(Crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) and the guys did an awesome job preparing this thing,” Bell said of his No. 4 Toyota and his Kyle Busch Motorsports crew. “It was just a dream machine. It was really, really good.”
The driver had something to do with it, too, as Bell made two winning moves over the final 16 laps.
The first came following a restart after Crafton had passed both Grant Enfinger and Austin Dillon to briefly take the lead himself on Lap 114. Enfinger had attempted to stay out on old tires and Dillon gained eight positions by taking only two on the final pit stop, as the rest of the field – Bell and Crafton included – all took on the full complement of four tires.
Bell was in fifth on the restart, but quickly moved to the front to engage in the battle for the lead with Crafton.
After finally grabbing the lead from the two-time series champion, Bell then had to survive a final restart with three to go after a spin by Austin Cindric with six laps remaining brought out another caution.
This time, Bell restarted on the inside for the front row, with Crafton to his outside. Crafton at first surged to the point, but Bell fought back and finally took the lead for good.
“I was just trying to do everything I could to make sure I got a good restart,” Bell said. “I didn’t get my momentum broke.”
Earlier, Bell won the first two stages with ease, leading every single lap of both to earn a total of 20 extra points in the season standings. He led a race-high total of 99 laps in all.
It was the third series win of Bell’s young career. Crafton finished second, followed by defending series champion Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Chase Elliott.
“We had a shot. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about,” Crafton said. “We had a shot at (Bell) and it was close.”
Kyle Busch, another Monster Energy regular and Bell’s de facto boss at Kyle Busch Motorsports, earlier in the day had won the XFINITY Series race at Atlanta and was attempting to make it a clean sweep of the day’s races. He led 25 laps, but got shuffled back on the restart with 16 to go and ended up hitting the outside wall after having a right-front tire go down, relegating him to a 26th-place finish.