Make that three in a row for Christopher Bell.
Bell earned victory in Saturday‘s NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, becoming the first Xfinity regular since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999 to collect three consecutive race wins.
But, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Bell at the end of the race. After a caution with seven laps remaining, Bell’s lead on the field diminished after being in control of the final stage. Things got worse for Bell on the ensuing restart with two laps to go in overtime, losing the lead to Justin Allgaier as drivers made it four-wide in a mad dash into Turn 1.
A 17-minute red flag for an incident involving Matt Tifft and Max Tullman set up a second overtime, which bunched up the field for one final restart. Bell was aggressive once the green flag dropped, hounding Allgaier’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet through Turns 1 and 2. Bell dipped low on Allgaier in Turn 3 and the two made contact while racing side-by-side to the white flag.
NASCAR.com: Allgaier: ‘It’s disappointing to get run over’
Bell would complete the pass in Turn 1 on the last lap and pulled away from Allgaier for the checkered flag, leading 94 laps en route to his fifth career Xfinity triumph.
“When it’s your day, it’s your day,” Bell told NBCSN in Victory Lane after the battle with Allgaier. “I’ll take them any way I can get them.”
NASCAR.com: Bell offers his take on the overtime events
Allgaier wasn’t happy with Bell’s tactics, making his opinions known after climbing from the car.
“He lifted me up at the start and lifted me off of Turn 2 and then tried to put me in the fence,” Allgaier said. “Yeah, I’m salty.”
Allgaier ended up finishing second, followed by Kyle Benjamin, Ross Chastain and John Hunter Nemechek to round out the top five.
Bell initially found trouble with 14 laps to go while in hot pursuit of Chase Briscoe. Briscoe’s No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford broke loose as Bell attempted to put him a lap down. After making light contact, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota drove away with little damage and Bell was able to hold the lead.
After starting third, Bell hovered around the front through Stage 1 as Cole Custer took the lead away from pole-sitter Elliott Sadler on Lap 28, cruising to victory in the first stage.
Stage 2 was a different story for Custer, though. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver lost the lead to Bell with three laps to go after having trouble maneuvering past a lapped car, allowing Bell to take over the top spot and win the stage.