Eleventh-hour dramatics may have hurt Christopher Bell in season finale

: NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 01: Christopher Bell speaks with the media prior to the NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration at the Music City Center on December 02, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

With two victories in must-win situations in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Christopher Bell stole his share of headlines and earned a spot in the Championship 4.

But his last-minute heroics—particularly in the Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway—may have put the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at a disadvantage compared with series champion Joey Logano, who won the first Round of 8 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and had two extra weeks to prepare for the Championship Race at Phoenix.

“That’s very interesting, because I had the exact same circumstances in my two Xfinity years,” said Bell, who competed for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2018 and 2019. “My first year I didn’t make it till the last race at Phoenix, and then in my second year, I won the first race at Texas.

“It definitely changes your mind-set and your preparation for the event. Joey had multiple weeks to prepare for that event (the season finale). The car, I’m assuming, was sitting there getting all the Phoenix tune-up on it, where our car… I don’t know… I definitely did not think it was a disadvantage for him to be able to focus on that for a number of weeks.”

Winning at Martinsville, however, had its own rewards for Bell—not the least of which is the grandfather clock trophy that goes with the victory.

“The house that I live in, we’ve just tried to keep my special trophies there, and the Martinsville clock is one that got to (be there),” Bell said.