Christopher Bell has unfortunately been here before. Just a couple of weeks ago he entered the Bank of America ROVAL 400 well below the cutline and facing a must-win scenario in order to get to the Round of 8. In the elimination race, he found himself outside the top five in the closing laps. Then he got a lucky break via a caution.
Adam Stevens called him down pit road for fresh tires. He’d restart 11th. Remarkably, he’d somehow win and for the first time of his young career, would be in the third round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Unfortunately, this round hasn’t gone his way either. Being an innocent bystander in the Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson tangle in Vegas and then having a bad handling car a week later in Homestead dropped the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to 33 points below the cutline again entering another elimination race on Sunday at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
“I’m fine. I’m disappointed with our performance today, but at least that is in our hands,” Bell said on Sunday in Miami. “Last week, I was emotional about it because it was out of our hands, and we were performing well. Today, it was in our hands, and we just didn’t step up to the bat and do what we needed to do. That was disappointing, but we will move to Martinsville. We ran well in the spring. I definitely feel better about winning there than I did at the Charlotte road course.”
Bell has three Top 8’s, two of which are Top 5’s, in four Truck Series starts at Martinsville and was seventh and 20th the last two April races in the Cup Series. He also qualified 7th this past spring and has 8 top 4 Row starting spots in the last 9 weeks. However, he’ll only start 20th on Sunday.
The Toyotas haven’t looked much better this weekend than the last time out here. Bell has to hope that changes on Sunday.