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Sure, stages may have stirred up this race, but Christopher Bell was the bartender.
Leading 99 of 130 laps, the pole-sitter became the first driver to sweep both stages and score the race win Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
“This was definitely a race I had circled after we left last February, ” said Bell, who crashed out while leading this race one year ago. “To come back and be as dominate as we were was really cool for me. It was a dream weekend for me.”
The only thing that shook Bell was a late restart with 43 laps to go when the dirt track star was stuck on the outside lane, falling to seventh before fighting his way back up.
“Got shuffled out, stalled out in fifth or sixth,” he said. “But when we were able to restart on the bottom, we got right back up there.”
Finishing second, Matt Crafton was unable to get by Bell on a restart with two laps to go. The two-time champion bounced back strong after flipping last week at Daytona. He was pretty happy about Atlanta’s soon-to-be-repaved surface. “This place is so much fun,” he said. “Slipping and sliding and being able to jus crack the throttle on restarts like you have an egg underneath your foot. That was some of the greatest racing I’ve seen in a long time.”
Johnny Sauter came home third followed by Ben Rhodes and Chase Elliott the top five.
Capping off a double-header, Atlanta brought some difficult conditions for the Camping World Truck Series. The opening lap saw a multi-truck crash involved Noah Gragson, Brett Moffitt and others.
Tires continued to keep teams honest, as John Hunter Nemechek took a savage blow in Turn 1 when his right-front rubber blew on lap 79. Kyle Busch cut a tire late, leading to a 26th-place result while Austin Cindric spun to bring out the race’s final caution.
Jordan Anderson took the hit of the night, spinning and crashing into the frontstretch grass, nearly tipping onto its side following the impact.
But not all nights came to a crashing end, however. Alex Bowman turned another opportunity into good impressions, with a sixth-place finish for GMS Racing.
Austin Dillon finished eighth followed by Timothy Peters and an underdog run in 10th with Ross Chastain, who gave team owner Jeff Bolen his first top-10 finish in 23 Truck Series starts.
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