By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
While he entered Texas Motor Speedway as a favorite for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship, Christopher Bell leaves in a must-win situation. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 was a disaster for the Playoff driver and Rookie of the Year contender.
After climbing through the field once in the No. 20 GameStop NBA 2K19 Toyota Camry, Bell battled inside the top-five. He fought with fellow Playoff drivers Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, and eventual race winner Cole Custer.
On lap 133, Cindric broke loose beneath Bell in turn 3, hitting his left-rear quarter panel. The contact sent the Joe Gibbs Racing driver spinning into the outside wall, drivers’ side. The damage was terminal.
“Obviously, I didn’t give him enough room,” Bell admitted. “How much more room can I give him on this race track? It’s a knife’s edge, I don’t just want to let off the gas and keep letting guys go on the bottom, so I was trying to hang in there on the top and try to get a hold. I felt like I almost had a hole behind the 18 (Ryan Preece), but I didn’t.”
The Series-leading winner, with six to date, first encountered trouble on lap one. As the field dove into turn 1, Bell’s pole-sitting Toyota broke loose and spun in front of the field. Miraculously, as others darted around or spun to avoid, no one hit Bell’s car as it was stranded in the middle of the track.
Bell entered Texas with a one-point cushion as the cutoff for the Championship Four. After his wreck, he is now 32-Points behind the cutoff, held by Allgaier. Bell can make the Championship Four at ISM Raceway with a lot of help. His best bet is to win the Phoenix 200 on November 10.
“This format, it’s very tough and it creates a lot of drama,” Bell explained. “I’ve always been proud of myself for winning races and I’ve won six races this year and I’ve got a chance to win two more. I’m going to go out there and try to win races. I’ve never been a points racer and my results show for that. I’m either up front or crashing. I’m going to go out and try to win two more races.”
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) November 3, 2018