By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Monday’s rain-postponed Cup race from Dover Motor Speedway threw its share of curve balls at much of the field, including Christopher Bell.
Starting from the 17th position, Bell jumped to sixth before the rain struck the one-mile track Sunday afternoon, forcing it to resume action noon Monday.
From there Bell stayed amongst the top 10, proving to himself that his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was a contender.
“We had an outstanding DeWalt Camry,” Bell said. “I feel like if we could have stayed up front we could have possibly contended for the win.”
With confidence in order, Bell’s day hit a road bump during the stage-ending pit stop, suffering a loose left-rear wheel.
Unfortunately, the loose wheel wasn’t found until the green flag flew on lap 129 while restarting on the front row. Within one lap, Bell had dropped to fifth. And one lap later, he dove to pit lane under green, falling to 32nd and two laps down.
“It is just very, very frustrating to have those issues and get put behind,” he said.
From there, the day was a work in progress, grabbing a free pass just before halfway on lap 197 and taking a wavearound to get back on the lead lap.
— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) May 2, 2022
A slew of caution flags in the final stage assisted the No. 20 in reaching the top 10, and eventually, a fourth-place finish.
“We were able to get back up there in that third stage, and I’ll take it,” he said. “I’m really proud of this No. 20 group. This Camry was so fast. They did an excellent job. They’ve been doing an excellent job all year, so just proud to drive this No. 20 car.”
The fourth-place effort was Bell’s first top-20 finish in four Dover starts. More importantly, his second top five of 2022 raises Bell from 36th in points after Round 2, to now 10th after Round 11.
“I knew this DeWalt Camry was fast after [Sunday],” he said. “We didn’t qualify very well, but we were able to pick our way through at the start of the race and stay out on old tires at the beginning of the day and have a good run at the end of stage one.
“I’m really proud of this No. 20 group. They are doing really, really good. Week in, and week out we are bringing cars capable of running in the top five and top 10, so hopefully our day is coming soon.”