By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Christopher Bell put in a gritty performance in the Ford EcoBoost 200, overcoming adversity to get within reach of the NASCAR Camping World Series championship in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but fading late en route to a third place finish in the points standings.
The 21-year-old Oklahoma native started eighth, but an ill-handling No. 4 Toyota Tundra put the rookie on the backend of the field and playing catch up to the rest of the Championship 4. Continually flirting with the high line of the 1.5-mile oval, the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver scraped the wall on multiple occasions while finally finding his way up to the fourth in a three-way fight with eventual champion Johnny Sauter and runner-up Matt Crafton on lap 90 of 134.
The remaining laps saw the two-time series race winner slowly fade into the bottom half of the top 10 before settling in right where he started the race – in eighth.
“When we started of the race, we were pretty far off,” Bell said. “I was struggling pretty bad, but everyone on this No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports group did an awesome job and I can’t thank the pit crew enough.
“Man, they’re the ones who gave us a shot there at the end. Really thankful for all our partners at JBL, Toyota, Toyota Racing Development, everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, all the guys that don’t come to the race track, all the guys that do come to the race track, all of our partners with SiriusXM and DC Solar, we appreciate them being on the truck a couple times this year.”
Bell added that having defending Sprint Cup champion and team owner Kyle Busch in his ear during the night was a huge benefit.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Bell said, of having Busch up on the pit box. “It was a big help having him up there.
“He was kind of able to coach me through the race and tell me what he saw from up on the roof and tell me what I needed to do and just wasn’t quite good enough all year long and came close tonight, but not good enough.”