Christopher Bell’s Martinsville hopes spoiled in late crash with Austin Cindric

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – With the laps winding down in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250, it appeared that Christopher Bell was en-route to claiming his first grandfather clock as a winner at Martinsville Speedway.

Unfortunately for Bell, his advantage ran out a few laps too soon.

Bell was pacing the field in the waning stages of Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event when an attempt to lap 19th-place Austin Cindric went awry, sending Cindric spinning into Turn 1 and Bell falling back as the day’s final caution flew.

Bell had caught Cindric two laps earlier, mired behind the rookie as he and Kyle Donahue fought for 19th around the .526-mile track.

With eventual race winner Chase Elliott and the ever-aggressive Johnny Sauter behind him, Bell was forced to drive aggressively lest he risk allowing either of the GMS Racing teammates to get to his bumper.

When Donahue drifted up the track a few turns later, Cindric was left open for a pass.

Seeing the opportunity to make a move, Bell attempted to dive under Cindric going down Martinsville’s front straightaway. However, when Cindric dove down to the lower lane moments later, Bell was left with only two options: Let off and risk being overtaken from behind, or march forward and drive through Cindric’s No. 19 Ford going into the corner.

Bell chose the latter.

The sophomore shoe was able to avoid Cindric’s spinning machine afterward, but he was forced to let off the gas to do so, allowing both Elliott and Sauter by before the caution flag flew. The Oklahoman attempted to regain the lead on a daring restart with 12 laps remaining, but was forced to settle for a third-place result for Kyle Busch Motorsports when the move proved unsuccessful.

Cindric followed in 21st, one lap down.

After the race, Bell faulted Cindric’s late move to the bottom for the crash.

“We were in really heavy lap traffic and obviously both the GMS trucks were really fast,” Bell said. “But I felt like our truck was able to maintain and we were strong enough that we were going to be able to hold on there and getting through lap traffic, got to the 19 (Austin Cindric), got into the back of him in (turns) three and four and then he got all the way up the race track off of four all the way to the wall. At that point I had went down to try and get underneath him getting into (turn) one and he decided he was going to go down with me.”

Standing over his battered truck in the garage area, Cindric took blame for the incident, chocking it up to a rookie mistake and a misinterpretation.

“It was a tough deal,” Cindric told Kickin’ the Tires. “I was trying to dive down low. I did it a bit too late, and he assumed it was a block, which I guess you would. I gave him room and he dumped me. He probably wasn’t happy because he thought I was blocking him, but I wasn’t.”

The 18-year-old Brad Keselowski Racing driver also expressed intent to reach out to Bell over the coming weeks.

“I’d talk with the crew chief and I’d like to talk with him,” Cindric said. “Just one of those deals. Onto the next one.”

Cindric will have plenty of time to reach out to Bell – the Truck Series doesn’t return to action again until May 12, when the series heads to Kansas Speedway.

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