After last week’s close defeat, Christopher Bell ended up in victory lane after a hectic race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bell battled back from a tough stage two to move through the field in the final laps. Bell took the lead for good with 16 laps to go and clinched his second consecutive Championship 4 berth.
For Toyota, the manufacturer continues its streak as the only manufacturer in NASCAR to have at least one driver in the Championship 4 every season.
His Toyota comrades and 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace carried their Camrys both to top-10 finishes, with Reddick in fourth and Wallace in sixth. Ty Gibbs also came home in the top-10 with a seventh-place finish, his best on an intermediate track in 2023.
Heading into Martinsville next weekend, Reddick, Hamlin and Truex are below the cutline. Reddick is 10 points back of the Championship 4 in fifth, with Hamlin and Truex tied in sixth – 17 points out of a title berth. For Hamlin and Truex, Martinsville has provided distinct success over the years as the two have combined for eight victories.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Race 34 of 36 – 400.5 miles, 267 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, CHRISTOPHER BELL
2nd, Ryan Blaney*
3rd, TYLER REDDICK
4th, William Byron*
5th, AJ Allmendinger*
6th, BUBBA WALLACE
7th, TY GIBBS
29th, MARTIN TRUEX, JR.
30th, DENNY HAMLIN
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem/Watts Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
Christopher Bell delivers today at Miami. How in the world did you and Adam Stevens take a car that was about to go a lap down and turn it into a winning race car?
“I’ve got the best team behind me. Honestly, I don’t know, man. That race was a whirlwind. I was ready to throw the towel in there in the second stage. I got frustrated on the radio. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) kept after it. Adam (Stevens, crew chief), Tyler (Allen, engineer) , William (Hartman, engineer), the guys back at the shop were working over the adjustments and gave me what I needed. Whenever we got some clean air, this thing was really good. I cannot say how proud I am to be here with our partners, with Rheem and DeWalt, driving these Toyota Camrys. I’ve been with Toyota since day one. Thank you, everyone, that’s supported me. This is better than a dream come true.”
Take us through your emotions during that race.
“I let my emotions get to me, that’s for sure. Normally, I don’t do that. But yeah, that was frustrating. It’s no secret this track hasn’t been my favorite. The first stage, I thought we were onto something. Started 14th and got all the way up to ninth, I thought if we can improve just this much, we’d have a great day. And then, it went the opposite as soon as we got to stage two. I have no idea what adjustments Adam made. We threw the kitchen sink at it, as we went from being one of the worst cars on the track to being one of the best at the end. Adam and the engineers back at the shop have the magic. What they can do on the pitstops, it’s pretty incredible the turnaround we had today.”
After last week, how does this win feel?
“It’s pretty sweet. I don’t know if last week any bearing on it, but we’ve had two good races in a row now. Have some momentum going. It’s all about Phoenix and now we have some more time to prepare for it.”
Does this win take off some pressure for next weekend?
“It’s going to be very relieving going into Martinsville. I looked at this round as a must-win every race. We had three opportunities to get to Phoenix. I was pretty vocal after last week, thinking that was our chance. Fortunately, we got it done this week.”
TYLER REDDICK, No. 45 McDonald’s Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How would you describe your day?
“Yeah, it was a frustrating day. I was really hoping we were going to get a little more out of that. The finish was what we needed, but we didn’t run as well as we wanted to all day, which was the disappointing part. I don’t know, it’s been a gripe of mine ever since we went to the composite body on the Cup side. Everyone runs the fence, and there’s no penalty when you have a mistake and hit the wall. Everyone just ran up there and hit it all day long. Gotta be more willing to take that risk in this car as there’s no penalty.”
BUBBA WALLACE, No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
Walk us through your day today.
“Ooh, frustrating day, frustrating sixth place. But, proud of our effort today, that’s what it takes. Never give up. We just need to be better. Have to look at what we did from Saturday night into today and not do that again and start better to put ourselves in contention. I thought our pit crew put us back in the game there today. Just not what we had for our No. 23 McDonald’s Grimace Toyota team, but all in all, a good result for sure.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Sport Clips Haircuts Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 30th
Do you think the initial problem contact with the wall led to that?
“Honestly, I didn’t hear you. We tried and it just didn’t work out. Unfortunate for this Sport Clips Toyota team. We really battled back well today – just a tough break.”
Golin for Toyota Racing