Christopher Bell opened up the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs with a dominating performance in Friday night’s Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway.
Bell led 238 of 250 laps en route to his seventh win of the season and the 15th of his career. With the win, Bell advances to the Round of 8.
"I think I told every one of my guys, this is an important race right here because if you win this, you’re pretty much safe until you get to the middle of October going to Kansas," Bell said. "This one means a lot. And it’s number seven, that’s pretty good too."
The victory was his third at Richmond and his laps led tonight was a career high in one race. His previous high was 234 at Iowa Speedway earlier this season.
Austin Cindric, who won the pole, finished in the runner-up spot for the second consecutive time at Richmond.
"Two runner-up finishes here at Richmond is good, but you want to win races, so I’ve got to keep working and keep figuring out how to catch that guy in the 20," Cindric said.
Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top five to give Playoff drivers a sweep of the first five positions.
Allgaier’s finish came after he had to start at the rear of the field because the right-rear tire was cut on pit road following qualifying. He was slated to start second.
Harrison Burton. Noah Gragson (Playoff), Zane Smith, Michael Annett (Playoff) and Tyler Reddick (Playoff) completed the top 10.
Justin Haley had the worst finish among the Playoff drivers in 17th. During the race he was penalized on Lap 154 for too many men over the wall during a pit stop.
Bell leads the point standings by 22 points over Custer as the series now heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL for next Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250.
Brandon Jones (-15), Ryan Sieg (-19), Haley (-20) and John Hunter Nemechek (-21) are the four drivers below the cutline after race 1.