By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After an up-and-down day, Christopher Bell managed to finish the OneMain Financial 200 on a high note. Bell’s fight to finish up front at Dover International Speedway spanned the entirety of the 200-mile race.
On the final run to the finish, Bell’s No. 20 Rheem / Comcast Salute to Service Toyota Camry was inside the top-10. The first several laps after the restart saw Bell three-wide on the high-banked concrete oval. When everyone settled out for the run to the finish, he found himself in fourth. Bell remained there for the rest of the race.
Bell’s up-and-down day started in the rear of the field. Issues in pre-qualifying tech prevented the Joe Gibbs Racing driver from making a qualifying attempt, relegating him to a 34thstarting spot. It didn’t take long for Bell to reach the top-10, finishing Stage 1 in ninth. He continued moving forward, ending the second stage in fourth.
However, Bell’s push forward suffered a setback on pit road. An uncontrolled tire penalty forced Bell to the rear of the field on a restart in the final stage. A couple of quick cautions allowed him to move regain position quickly.
“That was work right there, man,” Bell said. “But, you know, you’ve got to have days like this to test your mental toughness and that’s something that I’ve been preached and preached about and it’s something that I try and make a priority in my racing career is being strong – being mentally strong – and today definitely was a test for that and all of our team. They worked their butts off and we had a super, super fast Rheem Camry, so that’s something I’m really proud of. To come home fourth on a day like today is something I’m really proud of as well.”
Bell’s issues were not just confined to pit road and pre-race tech. He finished inside the top-five without power steering at the “Monster Mile.”
“Yeah, it’s really tough,” Bell explained. “You’re kind of along for the ride there and thankfully our Rheem Camry was really, really strong and we had a lot of speed, so I was able to hang on, but it’s not much fun whenever you’re out there. You just can’t attack.”
The fourth-place finish was the sixth top-five and top-10 of the season for Bell. He remains in the fourth position in the Championship Point Standings, 52-points behind Points Leader Elliott Sadler. Bell is also one of three drivers locked into the Playoffs via wins, including today’s winner, Justin Allgaier, and Tyler Reddick.
Now the Xfinity Series has two weeks off until the Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26.