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Bell Gives Toyota Fourth Straight Turkey Night Grand Prix Win

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PLANO, Texas (November 24, 2017) – Christopher Bell held off teammate Kyle Larson in a fierce battle that saw the two trade the lead three times on the way to winning the 77th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway in Ventura, California, Thursday night. Bell’s victory is the fourth consecutive Turkey Night Grand Prix crown for a Toyota-powered driver and the seventh in the last eight years.

The triumph is Bell’s second in the last four years at the Turkey Night Grand Prix and concludes a magical 2017 racing campaign that saw him win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, earn his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory and become just the second driver in history to win both the Chili Bowl Nationals and the Turkey Night Grand Prix in the same year.

Thursday night’s classic saw the two Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) drivers battle right from the start of the 98-lap feature. Larson started from the pole, while Bell qualified third, but quickly moved into second. Larson continued to hold the point position using the bottom of the track until Bell moved to the high side to take the lead on lap 13. Bell would continue to run the top throughout the race.

The two continued to run one-two through the middle of the event as Bell would lead the next 40 laps before Larson would take advantage of a re-start on lap 52. Going to the bottom, he was able to use a slider to re-take the lead, but it would be short-lived as Bell returned the favor on the following lap, moving up to within inches of the wall down the front straightaway to take the top spot. Larson tried to re-take the lead with another slide job into turn one, but to no avail.

Larson threw everything he had at Bell down the stretch as the two dueled for the top spot. On lap 80, Larson used a slide job into turn one to take the lead temporarily, but Bell quickly crossed back underneath off of turn two. Larson would use a similar maneuver into turn three, only to see Bell use another crossover to move back to the front. After a late re-start with four laps to go, Larson once again slipped past Bell in turn one, only to see Bell reclaim the lead heading into turn four. The two banged wheels with just two laps remaining as they fought for the lead and Larson would pull up side-by-side with Bell heading into the final lap. Bell went low, taking Larson’s line away and would eventually take the checkered flag for his ninth midget win of the year with Larson coming home second.

“Oh my God, that so much fun,” relayed Bell. “I just told Kyle that if he would’ve beat me, I would’ve been, maybe not just as happy, but still happy because it was just that much fun. That race was one of the most fun races I’ve run in a long time. I could tell that the top was going to be good. They tilled the bottom and I could tell it was going to be really good at the beginning. Once it started going away, I tried the top and it was right there.”

“The majority of drivers understand you have to be good at the end of the race to win the race. At the beginning, you’re just cruising and making sure you make It to the end of the race. That’s the biggest thing. Kyle and I were both rolling around there about quarter-throttle at the beginning, trying to save our tires and kill some laps. It worked out and we were racing our butts off at the end.”

Tanner Thorson made it three Toyotas in the top five with a fourth-place finish, while Ryan Robinson placed seventh. KKM’s newly-crowned USAC champion Spencer Bayston was running sixth before he and fellow Toyota driver Brady Bacon tangled on lap 57. Bacon recovered to finish 11th, while Bayston placed 16th.

Bell’s win was the 18th for a Toyota driver in USAC competition in 2017 with seven different drivers finding their way to Victory Lane.

Place
Turkey Night Grand Prix – Ventura
Toyota Feature Results
1
Christopher Bell
2
Kyle Larson
4
Tanner Thorson
7
Ryan Robinson
11
Tanner Carrick
12
Brady Bacon
13
Kevin Thomas
14
Holly Shelton
15
Logan Seavey
16
Spencer Bayston
20
Courtney Crone
23
Chad Boat
25
Tucker Klaasmeyer
29
Michael Pickens
 

www.toyotaracing.com

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