Bell wins at Dover, sets Xfin­ity record

Nor­man na­tive Christo­pher Bell won his sixth NASCAR Xfin­ity Se­ries race this sea­son in the play­off race Sat­ur­day at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in Delaware, set­ting the rookie record for vic­to­ries in a sea­son.

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - FROM WIRE RE­PORTS

DOVER, DEL. — Nor­man na­tive Christo­pher Bell has a sec­ond straight NASCAR cham­pi­onship in sight.

Bell won his sixth Xfin­ity Se­ries race this sea­son in the play­off race Sat­ur­day at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way, set­ting the rookie record for vic­to­ries in a sea­son.

He passed three driv­ers for most rookie wins: Greg Bif­fle won five races in 2001, as did Kyle Busch in 2004 and Carl Ed­wards in 2005.

Bell built his record with wins at Ken­tucky, New Hamp­shire, Iowa and twice at Rich­mond and ex­pected to add a few more as he chases a cham­pi­onship.

The 2017 Truck Se­ries cham­pion, Bell won the first stage Sat­ur­day and was never in any se­ri­ous trou­ble driv­ing the No. 20 Toy­ota for Joe Gibbs Rac­ing, lead­ing 110 of 200 laps.

"It's been a ca­reer year for me," Bell said. "All credit to Joe Gibbs Rac­ing. We have re­ally fast race cars ev­ery time I go to the race­track."

He was the only driver headed into the race who se­cured a spot in the semi­fi­nal round.

Ross Chas­tain, Ryan Truex, Ryan Reed and Bran­don Jones all failed to ad­vance.

Bell, Justin All­gaier, Daniel Hem­ric, Cole Custer, El­liott Sadler, Tyler Red­dick, Austin Cin­dric and Matt Tifft are still in the run­ning for the cham­pi­onship when the se­ries picks up in two weeks at Kan­sas.

"I'll be just as sharp when­ever we get to Kan­sas as I was to­day," Bell said.

The play­off driv­ers in the round of eight know there is only one sure way to knock off Bell.

"It would be nice to win a race," Custer said. "I think we'll have a shot to do it."

Custer was sec­ond at Dover, fol­lowed by All­gaier, Ryan Preece and Spencer Gal­lagher.

The 23-year-old Bell this sea­son be­came the first se­ries reg­u­lar with a three­r­ace win­ning streak since Dale Earn­hardt Jr. in 1999. Kyle Busch did it four times be­tween 2008 and 2016, but he was also run­ning full­time in the Cup Se­ries.

"I don't think it's any of our cham­pi­onships to lose," Bell said. "It boils down to the last race."

Hamil­ton claims pole for Ja­panese Grand Prix

SUZUKA, JA­PAN — Cham­pi­onship leader Lewis Hamil­ton claimed pole po­si­tion for the Ja­panese Grand Prix on Sat­ur­day, lead­ing a 1-2 fin­ish for Mercedes and tak­ing a step closer to se­cur­ing his fifth For­mula One cham­pi­onship.

With rain threat­en­ing, Hamil­ton clocked a lap of 1 minute, 27.760 sec­onds to edge team­mate Valt­teri Bot­tas by 0.299 sec­onds. Red Bull driver Max Ver­stap­pen was third.

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