Christopher Bell Says Kyle Larson ‘Crossed a Line’

Christopher Bell has gotten past the contact he had with Kyle Larson during last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen.

But he’s still upset.

Last Sunday after starting at the back of the field after his Toyota failed pre-race inspection multiple times, Bell fought his way towards the front and by lap 30 was second and by lap 48 was looking for the lead after finishing second in Stage 2.

The trouble happened on lap 54 while racing with Martin Truex Jr. for the lead.

Heading into Turn 1, eventual race winner Kyle Larson was charging from third, and got on the inside of Bell. Bell was sent spinning as Larson continued. With no damage, Bell rejoined the field 10th. He would rally and finish the day 7th. After the race Bell said he had not seen the replay.

“I don’t know if I crowded him (Kyle Larson) at all,” Bell said after the race. “But he shouldn’t have been in there in the first place. He didn’t really have a run coming off of (turn) seven. We were all packed up. I was faster than the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) but never could make a run on him to get by him, and same thing with him. It’s very disappointing.”

Larson was quick to take the blame for the incident.

“I definitely made a mistake getting into him,” Larson said. “But yeah, he would pull me off of (Turn) 7 every time, and that time I maintained, and I was outbraking him in the other laps, so I thought I could outbrake him and get all the way to his inside, but I was only able to get my nose to his numbers. Maybe not even that far, but it was close. At that point I’m already committed and on the verge of wheel hopping and locking the fronts up and I was just hoping he would leave enough room.

“Like I said, I just needed to be a few feet further up, and I think I would have had position on him, but I wasn’t able to get there, and yeah, he had to turn for the corner, and I was as low as I could get. Yeah, we made contact.

“It was definitely my fault. Not intentional, obviously. But I made a mistake.”

Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway site of Sunday’s Cup series road course race, Bell was upset after it was learned that Larson had texted Bell late that Sunday night.

“In my opinion, if Larson really wanted to talk to me, he would have called me to talk to me,” Bell said. “I received a text message at midnight that said ‘sorry, hate I spun you.’ I’ve sent out apology texts and calls in my day, and if I really want to talk to you about it, I called the person and handled it that way, if I couldn’t talk to them in person.”

Bell seems to have an issue with comments Larson made Monday on SiriusXM radio. Larson seemed to indicate that after further review he was perhaps not as much as fault as he first thought.

“Honestly, I think more after watching the replay, I think we both had a factor in what happened,” Larson said. Larson added he felt maybe Bell had turned into him. He also said that he had tried to reach out to Bell but received no response.

“I guess he’s not willing to talk to me, which is kind of whatever,” Larson said. “I think any adult in the field would at least have a conversation with you, but he doesn’t care to.”

Saturday Bell said he really wasn’t interested in talking to Larson.

“No, I was really moved on at that point,” Bell said. “The on-track incident – I wasn’t happy about it – but it was fine, and then whenever he went on cried to the media about me not texting him back from the text message I got at midnight, I called him to discuss that part of it and he didn’t answer my call and he called me back and I had some obligations, and I didn’t pick up either. On-track incident, whatever. Him crying to the media that I didn’t reply to his sorry text message, like, come on.”

It was those comments Larson made Monday that still have Bel upset.

“Did this cross a line? The on-track incident – no, it did not cross a line,” Bell said. “Him going to the media complaining that I didn’t respond – yes, I would say that crossed a line.”

Bell defended his lack of response to Larson.

“I was asleep,” Bell said. “I didn’t even see it till the next day. It’s very frustrating to hear that (Kyle) Larson has called me and I’m not answering the phone when that’s so far from the truth. If he really wants to talk about it, I’ll be glad to talk about it, but it is what it is.”

As for the on-track incident:

“I went back and looked at in on SMT, which is real data,” Bell said. “And I was a car length and a half above the normal bottom line. That was compared to my normal bottom line and his normal bottom line, so that’s what I’ve got to say.

“Yes, he hit me and spun me out,” he added. “I left him a lane and a half to not do that.”

Bell was told that Larson seemed to think that he felt like he had responded like any professional would respond.

“Well, I’ve apologized to a lot of professionals and very, very rarely – if ever – have I ever gotten a text message back,” Bell said. “…If I send a text message, and my text messages aren’t going to come at midnight either.”


Greg Engle