Christopher Bell led over half of the 200-lap race, swept the stages and will advance to Homestead to battle for the NXS championship next weekend.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Race 32 of 33 – 200 miles, 200 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Justin Allgaier*
2nd, Cole Custer*
3rd, Tyler Reddick*
4th, John Hunter Nemechek*
5th, Zane Smith*
11th, BRANDON JONES
16th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
17th, TOMMY JOE MARTINS
23rd, JOSH BILICKI
24th, JOEY GASE
28th, BOBBY EARNHARDT
30th, RILEY HERBST
32nd, CHAD FINCHUM
• Brandon Jones (11th) was the highest finishing Toyota driver in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Arizona’s ISM Raceway.
• Christopher Bell started from the pole position, won both stages and led 92 laps (of 200) before finishing 16th after experiencing a pit road penalty and spin on the track.
• By virtue of his Texas victory, Bell advances to the NXS Championship 4 to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 16th
What happened when you spun on the track?
“I think I just lost it. I don’t know. I was kind of running those guys down a little bit, just trying to get underneath them between turns one and two there.”
How was your car after the spin?
“I spun out and it took out the sway bar. I should have spun out every other lap, but saved it. I learned a lot though. I learned the front sway bar does a lot through (turns) one and two, but you can get away without having it in three and four.”
How much confidence do you carry going into Miami trying to get a championship?
“I feel really good about it. We’ll bring a really fast piece there. I can’t wait.”
How do you reset after this race and look forward to competing for a title next week?
“I’m just really excited to go to Homestead with a chance to win a championship. I’m really proud of these guys today. They gave me a really fast race car. I wasn’t really sure what happened with the speeding penalty. I was matching my lights, just like I did all day long and all day yesterday. We’ll have to look into that and see why it was so much closer to speeding today than it was yesterday in practice. Really happy for all my guys to be able to compete for a championship. Just have to go home, use the Xfinity internet service to study up and hopefully be as prepared as we can for Homestead.”
How do you feel heading into Homestead?
“This is what it’s all about. It all comes down to this one next week. I’m ready for it. I feel really good about where we’re at and our car is going to be extremely strong next week. We’ve prepared a ton for this. Ever since we left Homestead last year, we knew that this race was where we needed to improve. Pretty much all year long, we’ve been focused on Homestead.”
What do you have to change to beat Tyler Reddick in Homestead?
“The biggest thing was that we just sucked at Homestead last year. We knew that setup we raced last year, that car we raced last year wasn’t going to work. We’ve been focused really hard on trying to figure out what car we wanted to run at Homestead. We picked out our car, that car has been sitting to the side for a number of weeks now. My teammate got to test down there, Harrison Burton did a test down there back in August. We learned a lot there and we’re really prepared coming into next week’s race.”
Have you raced the Homestead car before?
“I have raced the Homestead car before.”
What happened after the pit road penalty today and was it frustrating?
“It sucks because I feel like I gave up a win. I don’t know, pit road speeds we focus really hard on week to week to make sure we maximize that, but we aren’t too close to the edge to speed. We did test pit road a number of times yesterday and felt like we were really safe, right on our number where we like to be. For whatever reason, we sped and I don’t feel like I missed my lights whenever I sped, so that was really confusing. We’ll have to look at that and make sure it doesn’t happen next week.”
How do you not let a speeding penalty get in your head when you get to Homestead?
“I think we’ll definitely play it a little more conservative next week than we have this week. Over the course of my career, I think that’s the first speeding penalty I’ve had where we just missed on it. I’ve sped before just being dumb following guys, but whenver I’m following my lights, that’s the first time I’ve missed on it. Like I said before, pit road and pit road speeds are something we focus on really, really hard during practice and we make sure that we’re plenty safe. I’m not sure how we got on the other side of it whenever I didn’t feel like I missed my lights that bad. Or at all for that matter. Obviously the spin is what ultimately took us out of the race.”
How challenging was the traffic in the race and did that cause the spin?
“I spun out. I was trying pretty hard to get back through the field and trying to do a crossover move on, I don’t remember who I was behind at that time, and whenever I hit the apron, I just spun out. On accident, not on purpose. After I spun out, I got a flat tire and I had to go all the way around the race track with a flat tire and it just drug the sway bar arm off so I had no sway bar and that’s why I wasn’t competitive after that.”
Why did the team leave the car chief at home this weekend?
“I’ve been told he’s not feeling well this weekend.”
Were you able to work into the traction compound during the race?
“I’ll be honest, I was pretty disappointed in it. I feel like I was pretty aggressive in trying it at different times in the race and it never really was a huge – I could never really make lap time up there. I don’t know if other guys were or not. For me, it didn’t really work as planned.”
What does it mean to be going back to Homestead for redemption for a championship?
“Whenever we left Miami, it was game on to figure out how we missed it that bad. We struggled really bad at Miami last year. We literally started planning for next week the Sunday after we left Homestead. Me and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) sat down in his office just talking about how we could have been better and why we were so bad. We’ve put a lot of effort into Homestead and we understand where we screwed up last year and we feel really confident about where we’re at now.”
Do you feel more pressure for Homestead this year?
“Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure at Homestead. It’s a one-race, winner-take-all event. We want to do really well, but I’ve come to the fact to just accept that if it doesn’t go my way, then it’s not meant to be. I’m really proud of the season I’ve had so far and win, lose or draw, next week I’ll be content with how my season was. I want to win the championship, but if something out of my hands takes it away, then I’ll be okay with that. We want to go there and compete though. We want to not have the same result as last year.”
Before the Playoffs started, were these the four drivers you expected to be battling for the championship in Homestead?
“If you look back, I think I did some sort of press deal some time ago and when they asked who I thought was going to be the fourth driver, I said the 7 (Justin Allgaier) car. I think it’s pretty much the four correct guys who got into the final four. I’ll be honest, I think Homestead is going to be a hell of a race. The big three seem to each have their moments where we’re both really strong. The 7 car has been a little bit behind us, but he’s been really good at Homestead in the past, so I think we’ll have a good race. I hope it’s a bad race and I lead every lap, but unfortunately I think it’s going to be a really good one.”
What do you plan to do this week to relieve pressure heading to Homestead?
“I have a pretty standard week scheduled ahead of me here. Really, until we get to Homestead on Thursday, we have a little bit of a media day there, but up until that point it’s pretty much just a normal week. Just going to go live everyday life and hopefully everything will work out.”
Toyota Racing PR