Box Score Info:
- RACE: NASCAR XFINITY Series – Zippo 200
- TRACK: Watkins Glen International
- DRIVER: Christopher Bell
- CAR: No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry
- START: 11th
- FINISH: 9th
- LAPS: 82/82
Coming off three-consecutive wins to end the month of July, Christopher Bell and his Rheem team paid a visit to Watkins Glen International on Saturday afternoon for their first of three road course races in the month of August. After qualifying 11th for the 82-lap event on Saturday Morning, Bell worked his way inside the top five by lap 35 and would go on to finish ninth after at the 2.45-mile road course.
Following the drop of the green flag, Bell slipped to 13th on lap one and maintained his position until the first caution flag of the afternoon waved on lap five. Staying out under the caution, Bell restarted in 13th and maintained his positon until making his first green-flag stop of the afternoon on lap 16. During the stop, the Rheem team changed four tires and added fuel to the Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Following the stop, Bell rejoined the field in 31st on lap 17th. With fresh tires, Bell worked his way through traffic and ended stage one in 25th on lap 20. Staying out, Bell restarted at the tail end of the longest line on lap 25 following a pit road penalty during his previous green-flag stop.
Despite the setback, Bell picked up multiple spots following the restart and was scored in 20th when the caution flag waved once again on lap 27 for rain. Under the caution, Crew Chef Jason Ratcliff once again called Bell down pit road to bolt on four rain tires and add fuel to the Rheem Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted in eighth on lap 32. With the track soaked following a heavy downpour, Bell went to work, cracking the top five by lap 35 and ending stage two in fourth on lap 40. Under the caution, Ratcliff once again called Bell down pit road for four new sticker tires, fuel and another round of adjustments to the Rheem Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted the final stage in 16th on lap 44.
The final stage would go green to start the run, with Bell working his way into 14th by lap 50 when he made his final green-flag stop of the afternoon for fuel only. Following the stop, Bell rejoined the field in 23rd on lap 51. Continuing to learn his way around the Upstate New York track, Bell cracked the top 15 by lap 60 and was scored in 12th when the caution flag waved once again on lap 67. Under the caution, Bell made his final pit stop of the afternoon, as the Rheem team changed four tires and adding fuel to the No. 20 Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted in 16th on lap 69 after some teams elected to stay out. With his Camry dialed in, Bell cracked the top 10 by lap 78 and would go on to take the checkered flag in ninth, earning his 13th top-10 finish of the 2018 season.
With his top-10 finish, Bell extended his series leading points lead to 22 over second place.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to the track next weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for their second road course race of the 2018 season. Coverage of the race begins at 3:00 PM ET live on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Were you excited racing in the rain?
“Yeah, I got to run a rain race in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series last year in Canada. I felt like I was competitive there and I haven’t really been that competitive in road course racing in the dry. I was looking forward to rain if it came. Sure enough it did come. I felt like I was doing okay. I was keeping up with the guys in front of me. I passed a couple of guys, so that was a lot of fun – searching for grip. Then the track dried out and it was a subpar day. Not really competitive.”
What was the coolest part about racing in the rain?
“It was cool. The hardest part was seeing and the fast straightaways. You get so much spray. I don’t know if the sun came out right away or not. The track dried really fast. We never got to run on a damp race track where you could attack, run hard and still slip and slide. We were pretty much trying to not run into one another because the spray is so bad, you just can’t see. It’s fun. When you get to the corners, you’re searching for grip. It opened up so many grooves. What I love at 1.5-mile tracks and dirt racing is you have so many options. That was a lot fun. I just wish I would have been faster on the dry when it mattered. My road course stats haven’t been that good. I need to get more competitive.”