Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell acknowledged Saturday at Kansas he made a mistake at Darlington that adversely affected Daniel Suarez at Darlington Raceway last Sunday night.
“Just a non-intentional mistake from me to slide up and crowd him into the wall,” Bell said of the Lap 266 incident. “Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it at the time and had no idea that he was upset until he spoke out.
“Once I learned he was upset, I did reach out and texted him. I apologized for getting into him, and he let me know that he was going to race me the same way I raced him going forward. I’ll just have to make sure to watch my back whenever he’s around me.”
In fact, Suarez considered himself fortunate that his car didn’t suffer more significant damage. He and Bell had restarted fifth and sixth, respectively at the beginning of the race’s final stage before the contact occurred.
Suarez, who had raced his way into the top five before his brush with the outside wall, was nicked for speeding on pit road under caution on Lap 280 and finished 18th, a result that left him 12th in the Playoff standings.
“You make decisions as a racecar driver,” Suarez said. “You have to live with those, and that’s the way he races. Something that is very, very general in the Cup garage is that you’re going to race people and you have to expect those people to race you the same way back.
“If that’s 100 percent clean, with a little bit of respect but aggressive, that’s the rule of the game and I feel like it’s going to be no different this time. I’m not thinking about it too much, but I definitely won’t forget what happened last week, because it could have been way, way worse. I feel like I got very lucky.”