Bell Tops Friday Xfinity Practice At Road America

Christopher Bell during practice for the CTECH 180 at Road America. [Dave Jensen Photo]

Christopher Bell during practice for the CTECH 180 at Road America. [Dave Jensen Photo]

by Paul Gohde

Friday’s first practice for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars at Road America found Christopher Bell’s Joe Gibbs Toyota leading the field with a time of 2:14.239/108.559 mph on his first of nine laps. Justin Allgaier, the 2018 Road America winner, was second (-0.035 sec.) in his JR Motorsports Chevrolet, followed by Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (-0.229), whose Ford has won both Xfinity road course races this season. Recent fan favorite Matt DiBenedetto, who almost pulled off a historic win in last week’s Monster Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, after finding out he had lost his ride for next year, was fourth, also for Joe Gibbs.

“This place is just fun. I like the aspect that the tires fall off after a while. Some tracks the tires stay pretty even and don’t fall off much. Here you have to manage your tires and brakes. You can’t go fast too early if you want to be good at the end,” Allgaier explained after what looks to be another year of success at a track he’s learned to like. “Road America fits my driving style very well. But you have to know that each time you come back here everything has changed, the car, the track, everything. You hope it still fits your style.”

In Practice 2, Bell was again fastest and looks to be a strong contender to win the pole on Saturday. DiBenedetto moved up to second this time around with former Indy car driver and current NBC TV commentator AJ Allmendinger third in a Kaulig Racing Chevrolet ahead of Justin Haley.

“It’s been a very emotional week after everything that happened at Bristol. It was heartbreaking finishing second there. But this is a lot of fun here and makes you kinda’ forget what went on there,” said DiBenedetto, who’s been in the headlines all week for the good and not-so-good that happened at Bristol. “Here, road courses put what happens into the driver’s hands. In road racing you can study the track and get better at it.” And does he know any more about what his future in Cup racing might be next year? “We’ve just got to perform every week and hope for the best. Here we’ve got to get better on our long runs and see what happens.”

Saturday’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 see’s the green flag at 2:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN.

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