In his early racing days, Oklahoma native Christopher Bell would drive by Texas Motor Speedway on his way to various dirt tracks such as Kennedale’s Cowtown Speedway.
He dreamed of racing and winning at the big track one day. Well, that day came Friday night.
Bell, driving the No. 4 Toyota, made an impressive charge to the top spot from the 21st position to win the WinstarOnlineGaming.com 400. Bell becomes the second driver to win multiple races in the truck series this season, joining his team owner and Cup regular Kyle Busch.
“This place has got a special place in my heart,” said Bell, whose best finish had been eighth in three previous truck races at Texas. “I ran a lot of races down in this area, but obviously never ran at Texas Motor Speedway. I didn’t really feel like it was a possibility, being a dirt track kid from Oklahoma. There’s no pavement racing around there.
“So to be able to race here was a dream come true. To be able to win here? I don’t even have the words to describe what it means to me.”
Chase Briscoe finished second, falling just inches away from his first career truck win. Briscoe had the lead when the race restarted with two to go, but Bell had the narrowest of leads when a final caution came out after Timothy Peters’ truck flipped coming out of Turn 4 on the second-to-last lap.
Bell and Briscoe had already crossed the start/finish line at that point, and the race ended under caution instead of overtime because the white flag had been out for the final lap.
“That’s about as close as you can get to winning,” said Briscoe, driver of the No. 29 Ford. “I didn’t know if we had him or not when the yellow came out.”
Briscoe admitted he would have liked NASCAR to look at the replays longer before determining a winner, but said: “They’re going to make whatever decision. We have to stick by it.”
Bell was a spot away from tying a track record for farthest starting position by a winner in a truck race. Todd Bodine won one of his TMS-record six truck races from the 22nd position in the 2004 fall race.
Bell made just as impressive of a run. He maneuvered his way through traffic and into the lead on Lap 70. He kept that lead most of the night, leading a race-high 92 of 167 laps, and when it mattered most. He held a lead of 0.002 seconds on Briscoe when the final caution came out.
“I didn’t think it was over,” Bell said. “I didn’t know the white flag was out. ... Luck was not on our side at first, but then it repaid us there at the end.”
Noah Gragson, a rookie who won the Star-Telegram Qualifying Day earlier in the day to start in the pole position, finished seventh. Gragson celebrated the pole victory by going through a makeshift high school graduation the track put on.
Gragson ended up leading 13 laps in his TMS debut.
Peters, a truck veteran who lost his ride when Red Horse Racing shut down late last month, returned driving the No. 99 Chevrolet for MDM Motorsports.
Peters had a top-10 run going before his crash coming out of Turn 4. Peters walked away under his own power and finished 13th.