By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A late-race spin left Christopher Bell settling for a top-10 finish after overcoming a pre-race penalty.
In the final Stage of the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen, Bell battled his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Larson for the lead. The lead trio were separated by car lengths over the course of several laps early in final Stage. Bell briefly challenged Truex for the top spot off turn seven before throwing a block on Larson.
A few laps later, Larson dove to the inside of Bell in turn one. On the curb with the inside tire locked up, the Hendrick Motorsports driver hit the No. 20 Stanley/Pristine Auction Toyota Camry. Bell spun on corner exit. NASCAR officials held the caution flag back as the second-year Cup driver got the car back in gear. Although nearly 30 laps remained in the race, Bell only managed to recover to finish seventh.
“I don’t know if I crowded him (Larson) at all, but he shouldn’t have been in there in the first place,” explained Bell. “He didn’t really have a run coming off of (turn) seven. We were all packed up. I was faster than the 19 (Truex) but never could make a run on him to get by him, and same thing with him. It’s very disappointing. Our Stanley/Pristine Auction Camry was extremely fast and definitely capable of winning the race today. Extremely frustrating, but a lot more racing to go.”
The climb through the field after the spin was Bell’s second of the day. Before the race, he was penalized after his Toyota Camry failed pre-race technical inspection. NASCAR confiscated the rear-window air deflector from both Bell and Chase Elliott’s cars. Both drivers started from the rear of the field and were docked 10-points. In addition to those penalties, both crew chiefs were ejected.
Without crew chief Adam Stevens, Car Chief Chris Sherwood assumed the role for Bell. Sherwood’s strategy, combined with the 26-year-old’s speed saw the No. 20 enter the top-10 in the second Stage. Bell finished Stage 2 in second, netting nine additional points.
The seventh-place finish is Bell’s 10th top-10 finish this season and the 17th of his Cup Series career.
Bell is locked into the playoffs via his win at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. He remains 15th in the points standings, 346 behind leader Larson. Bell is 32 playoff points behind Larson as well. The Norman, OK native is 107-points behind 10th-place Brad Keselowski and an additional playoff point at the end of the regular season.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.