By David Morgan, Associate Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Christopher Bell may have survived Talladega, bringing home a third-place finish, but after the checkered flag flew, it was no doubt that Bell already has next week’s race at Dover on the brain.
“Can we go tomorrow? Please,” Bell said following his podium finish, which was good enough to qualify him as one of the four drivers vying for the $100,000 bonus at the Monster Mile.
Bell was quick to note that superspeedway racing is not his strong suite and he accomplished his mission of making it through Talladega unscathed as one of the top NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars with a shot at racing for the prize money.
After starting the day in 10th, Bell was a constant fixture in the top-10 throughout the race, scoring stage finishes of seventh and sixth, respectively, in the first two stages. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver took over the lead following a restart on lap 71 and held onto the point for the next 14 laps until the caution flag was displayed again.
Bell would lead an additional two laps later in the race before settling into the top-five and staying there until the finish.
“Speedway racing and especially defensive racing whenever you’re up front at speedways is my weakness,” Bell said. “To get out of there with a top-four and be in the Dash-4-Cash next week is something I’m really proud of and that was what we had circled. Obviously, we want to win, but to be able to get a top-four and know that we have a shot at $100,000 next week at Dover is something I’m smiling ear-to-ear about.
“It definitely wasn’t the ride-around session we had at Daytona so that was a lot of fun. Very intense moments – I thought I was going to crash a couple times. I hope the fans got their money’s worth there.”
While giving a tip of the cap to race winner Tyler Reddick, who also led the most laps on the day, Bell called his shot when it comes to the next race on the schedule at Dover. The driver of the No. 20 Toyota has good reason to be optimistic, as he won at the track last season, with a fourth-place finish two years ago.
“The 2 (Tyler Reddick) car was really fast,” Bell said. “Obviously, RCR (Richard Childress Racing) has a really strong speedway package. They probably deserve to win, but we’re going to beat them next week.
“I want that money.”