The man on the move as the halfway point approached was Daryn Pittman, who moved to the top side on the restart and was up to fourth from eighth by the lap 25 benchmark.
A lap later, however, Christopher Bell was the new leader after taking Pittman’s move and using the top lane to blow by Grant for the lead. With the official halfway point flying on the 28th rounds, Oklahoma natives ran one and two as Bell started to edge away from Pittman.
However, as the laps wound down inside of 20 to go, Abreu found a breath of wind and began to fly through the field from the end of the top 10. He passed Travis Berryhill quickly for ninth and dispatched his Keith Kunz teammate Tanner Thorson for eighth just as quickly.
But the magical run ended with 13 to go, when Jerry Coons Jr. tried to throw a slide job on Tyler Courtney and made contact with the No. 7BC. Courtney was then run into the back of by Abreu, who had nowhere to go.
Bell was unfazed and took off again, but had to regroup one more time after a caution with seven laps to go for the stalled car of Michael Faccinto. The ensuing restart would also draw a slowdown, when Jonathan Beason stalled out at the entrance to the work area and reset the dash to the finish.
Though Pittman tried and tried, he could do nothing with Bell over the final laps, and his motor actually gave out coming to the finish line off the final corner.
“It’s hard to be disappointed with second, especially against 375 cars,” Pittman said. “They knew we were here. I had a really good race car and could keep pace with him, but I just really didn’t know how to pull off a move with the track the way it was. Congrats to Christopher, though … If I couldn’t win, I’m honestly a huge Christopher Bell fan and to see another Oklahoma guy get the win … I’m pretty proud of that.”
“The motor actually blew up coming out of turn four coming to the line, but it had enough to go for 55 good laps there.”
Grant finished third, his best-career Chili Bowl result, to cap off a week in which he became a father to twins and won his qualifying night on Friday in addition to starting on the pole.
“This Clauson Marshall team gave me a car that could win every time it hit the race track, and I’m obviously disappointed that didn’t happen, but I’m thrilled and honored to be on this podium,” Grant said. “I just hung to the bottom for too long, which is something I’m very rarely ever accused of.”
“Those guys (Bell and Pittman) seemed to have another gear against the fence that I couldn’t quite find. This race has been a dream come true, though, and hopefully I can come back, drive this car again and win one for these guys next time.”
Tanner Thorson and Jake Swanson completed the top five, followed by Courtney, Zach Daum, Coons, Ronnie Gardner and Damion Gardner.
After his late-race incident, Abreu rallied through the field again to post an 11th-place finish.
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