Christopher Bell Earns Seventh Win of the Season

LAT Images #20: Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Supra Rheem celebrates after winning

Christopher Bell advances to the next round in the Playoffs after scoring his series-leading seventh win of the season this evening at Richmond Raceway.

Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Richmond Raceway

Race 26 of 33 – 187.5 miles, 250 laps



2nd, Austin Cindric*

3rd, Cole Custer*

4th, Justin Allgaier*

5th, Chase Briscoe*




21st, J.J. YELEY




*non-Toyota driver

•                Christopher Bell led a career-high 238 (of 250) laps at Richmond Raceway this evening

•                Harrison Burton earned his third career top-10 finish in his fourth career series start.

•                Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones (11th) just missed out on his fourth straight top-10 results.


CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

Congratulations! Win number seven.

“Yeah, that one was pretty special. Going 92 laps straight here is really difficult. We were sliding all around. I felt like if I could get to traffic I was going to be in good shape because my car could move around really good. I could run up or I could run down. The 00 (Cole Custer) was keeping pressure on us pretty good, but this Rheem Supra was too good.”

You said this week it’s really important for you to try to win this championship. You threw that gauntlet down tonight.

“Man, we have been really, really fast all year long, but the last three races, we had an opportunity to win. We have been slacking a little bit, and I’m glad we got it done.”

What do you want to say to the fans tonight?

“I want to say thanks for coming out. It’s an honor to run in front of you guys. If you don’t come out, we have no one to race for. Thank you to all the fans for coming out.”

It doesn’t matter what they throw at you after a night like tonight.

“Ah, man. Gatorade has never felt better.”

You began the night telling me that you weren’t very good in qualifying. What did you throw at it tonight?

“Well, I think I told you that it wasn’t good in qualifying, so hopefully that meant it was good on the long run. It was pretty good on the short and the long run. The 00 (Cole Custer) could kind of close on us in the middle part of the run. I was trying to hit my marks, keep my rear tires under me and run on that yellow line.”

Did you have any concerns when Cole Custer was catching you?
“I was just trying to keep a gauge on my gap there. When the 00 (Cole Custer) was closing, I was getting nervous because I was trying not to slip the tires. I was pretty much running as hard as I could without slipping them and he was catching me a little bit at a time. It seemed like my car could move around maybe a little bit better than his. Lap traffic got me a little bit of a gap. It was tough work. 90 laps here is difficult. You feel like you are crawling after it, but this Rheem Supra was really, really good, and I’m just thankful to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing. I’m glad that I can drive for all of partners at Toyota, TRD, all the people at Xfinity that put on this series. It’s a lot of fun to drive these cars right now.”

How important is this win knowing  you don’t have to worry about the Roval next weekend?

“I think I told every one of my guys, this is an important race right here because if you win this, you’re pretty much safe until you get to the middle of October going to Kansas. This one means a lot. And it’s number seven, that’s pretty good too.”

You really dominated this race except the lapped traffic seemed to give you some trouble.

“It’s tough. The longer you go, the more you start slipping around. The 00 (Cole Custer) was really good. He was kind of keeping pace with us, gaining on me a little bit. Just had to stay focused and continue to hit my marks.”

What is it about this track with this being your third win at Richmond?

“We just have really good race cars. It’s a shame that I screwed it up in April because I feel like we had a great opportunity to make it four-for-four. I think it’s just him (Jason Ratcliff, crew chief), he’s got a really good package here and our cars just get around here really good for some reason.”

What is the significance of starting the Playoffs so strong?

“This is a very, very important race because if you win this one, not only do you get locked into the Round of 8, but you’ve got two back-to-back weeks and an off-week mixed in there. We’re living stress free for a long time now and I’m very thankful for that. I told my whole team, this is a very important race and we were able to capitalize on it and win.”

Do you foresee a win in the next round of the Playoffs?

“Looking at the schedule, I think that we realistically have a shot to win every race. That’s pretty special. I hope we can win in the next round. The ‘Round of 8’ was awful to us last year and it all goes away so fast. We just have to make sure we get through there and execute.”

Do you have any plans going into the next two races?

“Just don’t crash, which is the same plan we had last year and we didn’t execute it. It just changes so fast. We went to Kansas, we were the top seed going into Kansas, we crashed. That’s okay, I think we were right on the cut line after Kansas. Felt good about it, Texas was a great race track for us. The next thing you know, we crashed again at Texas and then we had to go to Phoenix and win. That was the only way we were going to race for a championship. That was not very fun. We’ve done a great job accumulating points so hopefully we can kind of cruise through it, but crashing is the biggest enemy there.”

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

What is it about Richmond that the combination of yourself and Christopher has been dominant?

“He (Christopher Bell) does a nice job here obviously. We brought three cars now, there’s been a tire change so there’s a lot of different variables that have changed. Our setups kind of evolve as well. He has a good knack for getting us where we need to be in practice. I think that’s the key here at Richmond is not dialing yourself out. You need to come off the truck fast and then making the right changes and trying to anticipate what you’re going to have at night. He’s good at doing that and giving us the right information to have a good car at night.”

HARRISON BURTON, No. 18 DEX Imaging Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 6th

How was your race?

“It was an alright day. I had a lesson in tire conservation for sure in the first stage there. Ended up burning our tires off a little bit, which is crazy because in the last stage I felt like I went just as hard and didn’t. Just something I have to go back and look at and lost a lot of track position there. Here, it’s so hard to pass and get it back. We struggled a lot on entry with being too loose and just using the right-rear tire up a lot doing that. Just have to keep digging and keep rolling. I think I had a good night and I learned a lot and we can move on from here into the Roval and hopefully have some momentum going.”

Is this season all about learning in this series for you?

“For sure and the best way to learn is to make mistakes. I think that it was definitely a good race for me and I want to win, that’s my job as a race car driver, especially in the 18 car is to go out and win. Top-10 with a sixth isn’t too bad. Proud of the guys at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). They put together a pretty quick race car. I thought we were better in practice than we were in the race. Just have to learn how to transfer from day to night and what I needed from the car. I think we’ll be hard to beat if we get it all tied together.”

BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Freightliner Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 11th

What are your thoughts on tonight’s race?

“My thoughts on this track still haven’t changed. It’s still difficult. After today, I don’t know, he (Christopher Bell) knows how to get around this place pretty good. We’ve all got similar cars so I just have to figure it out. All in all, we kept fighting. I thought we were going to get a top-10 and I faded super fast at the end. I didn’t know what line to run or to protect to guard against (Tyler) Reddick there. I don’t think that mattered though too much for us as far as points go. I’m not paying attention to that right now. We’ve got one more tough one, the Roval is coming up. That’s going to be difficult for me, but Dover is also going to be good too. I’ve run well there in the past. Hopefully, that will be good for us and we’ll put this crap behind us and keep going.”

How hard were you fighting to keep the top-10 finish in the closing laps?

“Top-10 is what I strive for all the time. Hate that I had to give it away the last lap. I didn’t know how to defend against it. My car just went super tight. I couldn’t really wrap the bottom very good, but I couldn’t run the middle lane very good either. I didn’t know which one to take. The guy behind us was messing around and found where I wasn’t going. We’re going to keep moving on. Had a pretty decent car today and my guys kept battling.”

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