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February 23, 2019
AP Auto Racing Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Christopher Bell routed the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway and led all but 20 laps to win the Xfinity Series race Saturday.

Bell, winner of a series-high seven races last season, gave up the lead during scheduled pit stops but cycled back to the front with 30 laps remaining.

A caution with eight laps remaining set up a final restart and Bell held off Cole Custer by .191 seconds for his first win of the season. Bell had led 135 of 155 laps before John Hunter Nemechek’s spin brought out the first caution for incident and put Bell’s victory in jeopardy.

Bell led the field down pit road with six laps remaining and had a clean stop while Tyler Reddick, his closest competition, dropped four positions. Bell restarted the race as the leader with three laps to go and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Jeffrey Earnhardt behind him for a three-lap shootout to the finish.

Earnhardt’s outside lane didn’t take off at the same pace that Bell did on the bottom, and it allowed Bell to pull away.

Custer finished second and was followed by Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones and Reddick.

Earnhardt was sixth for his first career top-10 finish. He is the grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt.


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