Christopher Bell fights to a top-five finish at Iowa

To say Christopher Bell staged a yeoman’s effort Sunday at Iowa Speedway is somewhat of an understatement.

Bell started his Iowa adventure on Friday when during the lone practice session of the weekend, Bell ran the fastest lap early only to have a right front tire on his Toyota blow 19 laps into his run and slam into the outside wall. It was a disappointing start considering Bell had been among a handful of drivers who had tested the new pavement at the track only a few weeks prior.

“We were just here — what, a month ago? — and did 50-lap runs all day long and had no issues at all,” Bell said after Friday’s crash. “It caught me off-guard, and I know it caught my team off-guard as well.”

That practice crash led to his Joe Gibbs Racing team pulling out the backup car and sending him to the rear of the field Sunday.

Bell made the most of it, soldiering through the field, avoiding trouble, and another blown tire and came home fourth behind Ryan Blaney who won the race.

“Yeah, I mean, a top-five, is a good day,” Bell said. “Obviously, we had pace to be better than that, so that’s why I’m sitting here with mixed emotions. Great effort, and if we keep bringing cars like that, hopefully it’ll be our day one of these times.”

He added that the team made no real adjustments to the car during the race.

“I was just not good until the tires got hot,” he said. “Once the tires got hot, it came in. I was literally the slowest car in the field when we took off on stickers, and all of a sudden, it started to come in, and we were really fast. I don’t know. It was an up and down day, and I don’t really quite know how to feel about it.”

Fortunately for Bell the race’s eighth and final caution came on lap 261, setting the race up for a long green flag run to the end.

“Yeah, I mean it was a rocket ship on the long runs,” Bell said. “Everything I needed. I don’t know how much faster I was, but I could see the leaders, and then all of a sudden, I couldn’t see them later on. It was good on the long runs, just struggled with strategy and on the short runs.”


Greg Engle