2017-12-19 Christopher Bell passed fellow Toyota driver Chad Boat with four laps to go and won the third annual Junior Knepper 55 in Du Quoin, IL
After taking home a NASCAR Camping World Truck World Series title on 11-17-2017 then on 11-23-2017 he won the Turkey Night Grand Prix and now Bell celebrated his 23rd birthday here at this event with another win.
Bell began the race in third with Boat in second, the two Toyota drivers occupied those spots on the high side for most of the early racing behind leader Trey Marcham. Boat eventually move around Marcham coming off turn four on lap 18. Boat matained a comfortable lead through the middle of the race and then lapped traffic slowed him down. Nearly getting caught in a spin with less than 15 laps to go.
Bell began his charge up from third and took the lead with just 10 laps left then a final caution came out with just five laps remaining and Bell would use it to his advantage. Boat continued to run high, while Bell went to the bottom of the track. The Toyotas crossed the start/finish line side-by-side.
“To be able to win the last race of the year like that is pretty cool,” said Bell. “At the beginning of the race, I was really good, but was kind of biding my time. Once Chad got the lead, I was really struggling. I was just trying to figure out what I could do to make something happen. I was pretty much determined to go where he wasn’t. He was kind of a sitting duck out there. This place, once it gets so far around the top, you can make up time there whenever you can get your momentum built up, but you’re so vulnerable, especially on restarts. The door is wide open and it’s so easy to throw a slider here. Whenever he opened up the inside like that, I knew I had to take advantage of it.”
“Going to NASCAR has made me a better racecar driver just because it’s taught me things I didn’t learn here on the dirt,” Bell said. “That’s something I’ve been able to find that when you run these really long races, you learn that you don’t have to lead lap five. You don’t have to lead lap 10. You only have to lead the last lap. That’s something I’ve really tried to apply in midget racing and it seems to have worked.”