RACE: Zippo 200
TRACK: Watkins Glen Internationa
Once again Bell had a strong day and showed off his driving chops with a sensational save in the last ten laps.
Bell Finishes Second at Watkins Glen
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20)
- Christopher Bell advanced to the final round of qualifying Saturday at Watkins Glen to earn the fourth starting position.
- Bell advanced up to third in the opening laps, but dropped back to fifth by the first caution on lap 11 where he reported back to his team that his Supra was pretty good except through the bus stop.
- As different pit strategies played out, Bell stayed on the track and raced his way up to second to close out the first 20-lap Stage.
- At the conclusion of the Stage Bell reported back to his team that he needed a little more rear grip.
- The No. 20 Rheem team was playing a different pit strategy than some others and did not pit during the Stage break.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 24-40)
- Bell started first, finished 10th.
- The field took the green on lap 24 for Stage 2 and six laps later Bell came down pit road for four tires and fuel under green.
- Bell raced his way back through the field to close out Stage 2 in 10th.
- “It’s hard to pass” reported Bell to his team at the Stage break.
- The team stuck with their pit road strategy and did not pit at the break while some others did, which moved Bell up to sixth to start the final Stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 44-82)
- Bell started sixth, finished second.
- Bell started the final Stage sixth on lap 44 and worked his way up to second by lap 58 where he came down pit road under green for his final pit stop of the race. The Rheem team gave him four fresh tires and fuel.
- As the laps dwindled down things heated up on the track and multiple cautions came out towards the end. Bell was running in the top three and holding his ground.
- With less than 10 laps remaining Bell made the save of the race. His No. 20 Rheem got sideways in front of the field after contact from another competitor and Bell miraculously got the car pointed back in the right direction and avoided a multi-car collision.
- Bell went on to earn a second-place finish Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen International.
- Bell crossed the finish line third, but the second-place car was disqualified in post-race technical inspection.
- Bell remains second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Standings, 32 points behind the leader.
- Bell led the field two different times for a total of three laps.
How did you save the car on that final restart?
“I just got lucky. For whatever reason it decided to come back around instead of turning into the fence so that was really good. We had a really good Rheem Supra. It was really fast and obviously with Kyle (Busch) being as good as he was, we knew our package was really good here so it was just a matter of me figuring it out. If I could have just been a little bit better, I think we could have got them.”
How was your race overall?
“It was really good. We were really competitive and I think our cars are really fast. Kyle (Busch) was obviously the class of the field so that showed where Joe Gibbs Racing’s road course program is and I was able to compete, which is good. I still just have to get better.”
Did you feel you had a better chance for the win after Kyle Busch broke and went to the garage?
“Once he (Kyle Busch) broke, we were all kind of right there. That was good, but ultimately whenever Kyle qualifies a second-and-a-half faster than you, I have to get better. I have to get quicker and up to his speed.”
Is this a success knowing that road courses aren’t your strong suit?
“I feel good. If you would have told me I was going to run third before the race, I would have been really happy. Ultimately, I still have to get a lot better on these things. Kyle (Busch), we’re in the same equipment and he was a lot faster than me. I know I’ve got a lot of room to improve and just thankful that I get to drive really fast race cars.”
Up Next: The Xfinity Series continues road course racing with a trip to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the B&L Transport 200 on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC, SIRIUS XM Channel 90 and MRN radio.