Christopher Bell, Erik Jones have made nice

Christopher Bell
MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 27: Christopher Bell, driver of the #4 JBL Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2017 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

Christopher Bell arrived at Martinsville Speedway on Friday intent on the serious business of trying to win a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, but his victory in last Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kansas Speedway was still a prime topic of conversation.

With four laps left in the Kansas Lottery 300, Bell pulled a slide job on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones and steered his No. 18 Toyota up to the wall in front of Jones’ No. 20, which plowed into the back of Bell’s Camry.

Set to drive full-time for JGR next season, Bell went on to win in his fifth start, while Jones nursed his wounded car to a 15th-place finish, one lap down. After the race, Jones was critical of Bell’s “dirt-track” move.

After talking to Jones later , however, Bell believes the hatchet is buried.

“Me and Erik – we’re fine,” Bell said on Friday before practicing his Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra in preparation for Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 Truck Series race at Martinsville (1 p.m. ET on FS1). “I reached out to him after the race. We’re fine. Our relationship is kind of how it was before that. There’s no grudges held, at least that I know of.

“I don’t know. I’m a dirt racer, and he’s not a dirt racer, so maybe that was two backgrounds clashing right there. I executed my move exactly how I wanted to do it, and I felt like I left him multiple options to get a different outcome. That’s kind of where I’m going to leave it.”

It’s not that Bell and Jones were bosom buddies before the race, even though both have advanced through the Toyota development pipeline. When Bell starts his first full-time Xfinity season with JGR next year, Jones will move into the seat of Gibbs’ No. 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride.

“As far as mine and Erik’s relationship, we weren’t really, I guess, friends before,” Bell said. “We didn’t talk every day or anything like that. We were acquaintances, so I think that’s going to continue on.

“I made sure that I reached out to him after the race. I tried to smooth things over as good as I can. We’re all here to win. We’re not here to become buddies.”

The Truck Series leader was second fastest in opening practice on Friday behind two-time champion Matt Crafton, who covered the .526-mile distance in 20.129 seconds (94.073 mph) on his 11th and final lap of the session.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.