RACE: Boyd Gaming 300
TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
A challenging day at the track for Bell but he maintains his position atop the standings.
Bell Rebounds from Late-Race Contact to Finish 13th at Vegas
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45)
- Qualifying rained out for the second week in a row, leaving NASCAR to set the field based off 2018 owner points, lining Bell up third to take the green flag.
- Due to an approved adjustment pre-race the No. 20 had to relinquish their starting position and drop to the back of the field to take the green.
- Bell methodically maneuvered his way through the field and by the end of the 45-lap opening Stage had cracked the top five and was running fourth.
- Bell reported that his Supra was a little free into turn three, but also acknowledged that there was a good chance the wind played a big role in the handling.
- After a trip down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment Bell was ready for Stage 2.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 52-90)
- Bell started fifth, finished second.
- Over the course of Stage two, Bell worked his up to second and had his eyes on the leader when the green-white-checkered waved to close out the segment.
- Bell pitted for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment at the conclusion of Stage 2.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 97-213)
- Bell started second, finished 13th.
- The Rheem / Smurfit Kappa Supra developed a slight tight-handling condition, but Bell continued to hunt down the leader, even briefly taking over the lead from teammate Kyle Busch.
- The tight-handling condition worsened with clean air out front, causing Bell to brush the wall and opening up the door for the No. 18 of Kyle Busch to regain the lead.
- A late-race caution left the field taking the green with six laps to go. Bell started second, but lost ground dropping back to fourth before another caution fell, setting the field up for NASCAR overtime.
- Bell was clipped from behind in the first overtime attempt. The contact tore off the rear bumper and sent him through the grass.
- After a trip down pit road the car was repaired enough to make it through the next overtime attempt.
- Bell took the final overtime restart from the 10th position, but NASCAR stopped scoring the No. 20 since there was no mandated bumper on the vehicle.
- Despite the setback, Bell completed the race and was ultimately scored 13th.
- Bell maintains the top spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings and increased his lead to 18 points over second.
How good did it feel to battle for the lead with Kyle Busch and what happened that put you into the wall?
“That was a ton of fun. You have good races and bad races and obviously that’s not where we want to finish, but that was one of the most fun races I’ve ran in the Xfinity Series. Obviously, all of our Joe Gibbs Racing Supras were really fast and I’m really proud of everyone on this team 20 car. Our Rheem Supra was really, really good there on the long run pretty much all race long. That last long run I fired off really loose and just came to me. Whenever I was running down Kyle (Busch), I was really, really loose and then as soon as I got in front of him, I went into turn three and I just got tight and hit the wall. It was unfortunate that I got into the wall and he got back by me, but ultimately, we didn’t finish good because of my restart errors. Just have to clean up restarts and do a better job of that. Hopefully we’ll be able to close out a couple more of these.”
How aggressive were you racing against Kyle Busch?
“That was fun and I’m a big believer that you have good races and bad races. We didn’t finish good, but I felt like that was a really good race for me. I felt like I drove really nice. Just needed to do a little bit better job on restarts. Pretty much all race long I struggled on restarts. Just have to work on that a little bit and hopefully we’ll be able to win a couple more.”
How do you think you matched up to Kyle Busch today?
“I felt like we were pretty evenly matched. I had moments where I was better than him and he had moments where he was better than me. That makes me feel really good and that goes back to what I was saying earlier, good races and bad races. I feel like this was a really good race for me.”
Are you disappointed with the outcome of the race?
“I’m certainly disappointed with the finish, but that was fun. That was a ton of fun going out there rim-riding and Tyler (Reddick) was awesome. I think my spotter said we were the only three on the lead lap there for a little bit. It’s really cool whenever you get a couple great guys like that to go out and put on a good show. I’m thankful that Kyle gets to race with us and he makes us work for us and he still won today so it’s not like we beat him. Hopefully we’ll beat him one of these times.”
What happened when Kyle Busch went high and you got the low line?
“I figured the bottom would be good if I could just get through one and two, but I would get so loose whenever I was on the bottom of one and two and Kyle (Busch), the veteran he is, he put it right on my door. I got through there okay and I was just too committed to his quarter panel trying to stall him and it let the 2 (Tyler Reddick) get inside of me and that ruined my restart. I should have been more worried about blocking the guy behind me than I was attacking Kyle.”
Next Up: The NASCAR Xfinity Series continues on a West coast swing with the next stop being ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. The race is scheduled for Saturday, March 9, with television coverage at 4pm ET on FS1.