Christopher Bell returns to Gateway Motorsports Park for Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 as the defending race winner. Bell also enters the 160-lap event as the most recent winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, having narrowly edge Chase Briscoe in a photo finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth last Friday night.
Last year’s win at the 1.25-mile oval helped the Oklahoma native secure his spot in the eight-driver field for the inaugural Truck Series Chase. Bell, who led twice for a total of 38 laps, cleared fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ben Rhodes through Turns 1 and 2 after a lap-158 restart and remained out front for the final two laps to secure his first NASCAR win on pavement.
This year, Bell already has secured his berth in the Truck Series playoffs having collected two wins in the first seven events of the season. He made history at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February when he became the first driver in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions to sweep all three stages of a race, leading a race-high 99 laps en route to the victory. While on paper his victory last week at Texas was once again dominant, having led 92 of the final 98 laps, the end result was similar to last year’s Gateway win where he lost the lead late and then gained it back with a strong restart in the closing laps.
The talented wheelman sits second in the Truck Series championship standings after seven events, 40 tallies behind reigning champion Johnny Sauter. Bell does however lead NASCAR’s third division in wins (two), playoff points (13), poles (three), laps led (332) and fastest laps run (136) and is tied with Sauter atop the charts in top-five finishes (five) and top-10 finishes (six).
Bell will be looking to ring in victory number three of the season Saturday night at Gateway as he is drivin’ to make it back-to-back wins on the Truck Series schedule, as well as back-to-back trips to victory lane at the challenging 1.25-mile oval.
Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 4 NCWTS JBL Tundra:
Are you looking forward to going back to Gateway as the defending race winner this year?
“Gateway was a good race for us last year because we were able to get a win and earn a spot in the Chase, but it was kind of circumstances that got us the win. A few of the strong guys crashing late in the race combined with a good pit stop, followed by a good restart won us the race. I’m looking forward to going back this year and trying to win the race as the dominant truck like we have the other two wins we’ve collected this year. I feel like every time we’ve gone to the track this year we’ve had really good speed and a Tundra that’s capable of winning the race.”
Does having two very different corners make it tough to get the setup of your truck perfect at Gateway?
“It’s definitely takes a little bit of give and take to be good at Gateway, because the corners are so different. You can’t be perfect in both corners and knowing what we need to sacrifice to be good is something that Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) is really good at. Whether that’s to give up something in one and two, or that’s to give up something in three and four, Rudy will have a good grasp of deciding that.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 4 NCWTS JBL Tundra:
Is Gateway a difficult track to find a setup that your driver is happy with?
“The combination of having two distinct corners and practicing in the day and racing at night make Gateway one of the toughest races on the schedule for driver, crew chief and crew to gel. It’s like Pocono where you can’t have the perfect setup for all the corners, you have to pick which corner you want to make better. The other challenge will be practicing during the day when it’s 95 degrees and then racing at night when it’s 70 degrees. I have most of the same guys on my team that we led the most laps with Erik (Jones) in 2015 and again with William (Byron) last year and don’t have a win to show for it, so we are really motivated to get the win this year.”
Tickets for the June 17 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 are on sale and may be purchased at the GMP ticket office, by phone at (618) 215-8888 or online at www.gatewaymsp.com. General admission tickets start at just $36 and kids 15 and under are free (general admission).
Official entry list for June 17 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200
0 Jennifer Jo Cobb, Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet
02 Austin Hill, Randco/Young’s Building Systems Ford
1 Jordan Anderson, Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet
4 Christopher Bell, JBL Toyota
006 Norm Benning, Chevrolet
8 John Hunter Nemechek, Chevrolet
110 Bryce Napier, ASAP Appliance Service Chevrolet
13 Cody Coughlin, JEGS Toyota
16 Ryan Truex, Dierberg’s/Bar Harbor Foods Toyota
18 Noah Gragson, Switch Toyota
19 Austin Cindric, Draw-Tite Ford
21 Johnny Sauter, Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet
124 Justin Haley, Chevrolet
27 Ben Rhodes, Safelite Auto Glass Toyota
29 Chase Briscoe, Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation Ford
33 Kaz Grala, Kiklos Chevrolet
136 Kevin Donahue, Nano Pro MT/UNOH Chevrolet
44 TBA, Shawn Magee Designs Chevrolet
145 T. J. Bell, Black Riffle Coffee Co. Chevrolet
49 Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet
51 Todd Gilliland, Pedigree Toyota
63 Kyle Donahue, Chevrolet
66 Ross Chastain, Chevrolet
68 Clay Greenfield, 1-800PAVEMENT Chevrolet
183 Todd Peck, Chevrolet
88 Matt Crafton, Menards Toyota
98 Grant Enfinger, Ride TV Toyota
199 TBA, Chevrolet
Last Update: June 13, 2017 — 11:15 a.m. CDT
Official entry list for the ARCA Midwest Series Illinois Lottery 50
O4 Natalie Decker, Eagle River WI, Toyota
0 Andy Jones, Gurnee IL, Toyota
2 Gregory Borchardt, Prior Lake MN, Chevrolet
5 John Beale, Verona WI, Chevrolet
7 John DeAngelis Jr., Hubertus WI, Ford
7 Paul Shafer Jr., Portage IN, Chevrolet
8 Brent Kirchner, LaCrosse WI, Chevrolet
14 Austin Nason, Roscoe IL, Ford
15 Dean LaPointe, Marshfield WI, Ford
18 Michael Ostdiek, Lakeville MN, Chevrolet
20 Jim Sauter Jr., Tomah WI, Ford
35 Travis Dassow, West Bend WI, Toyota
36 Dan Fredrickson, Lakeville MN, Toyota
39 Andrew Morrissey, DeForest WI, Ford
42 Dennis Prunty, Knowles WI, Toyota
44 Justin Mondeik, Gleason WI, Chevrolet
45 Rich Bickle Jr., Edgerton WI, Chevrolet
52 Ricky Baker, Plainfield IL, Ford
75 Mike Beyer, Machesney Park IL, Ford
77 Jonathan Eilen, Hampton MN, Ford
91 Ty Majeski, Seymour WI, Ford
99 Cole Rouse, Fort Smith AR, Toyota
99 TBA, Toyota
119 Dalton Zehr, Daytona Beach FL, Chevrolet
Received: June 12, 2017 — 1 p.m. CDT
Saturday, June 17 — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 schedule
8:30 a.m. — Spectator parking lots open.
9 a.m. — Spectator gates open.
9 a.m. — Climbin’ for Linemen competition begins (infield).
9:30-10:25 a.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 practice.
11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m. — Final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 practice.
1:30-2:30 p.m. — Illinois Lottery 50 ARCA Midwest Tour practice and qualifying.
2-2:45 p.m. — NASCAR driver autograph session (infield, near scoring pylon).
2:30-4:30 p.m. — Free concert by The Band Steele on the midway.
4:45 p.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 qualifying.
5:45 p.m. — ARCA Midwest Tour Illinois Lottery 50 driver introductions.
6:10 p.m. — ARCA Midwest Tour Illinois Lottery 50 (40 laps, 50 miles, timed event).
7 p.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 driver introductions.
7:30 p.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 (160 laps, 200 miles).
Schedule is subject to change.
Twitter hashtag: #D4LM200
About Gateway Motorsports Park
Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, the 1.6-mile Circuit of St. Louis road course, a state-of-the-art Karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue.