Christopher Bell spun off Turn 2 late in Stage One of Wednesday night’s Eldora Dirt Derby 150 at Eldora Speedway in Rosburg, Ohio and got t-boned by Kaz Grala. After his crew made repairs to major damage the right side of his No. 4 Toyota, Bell restarted the race in the 23rd position. He was able to battle back to lead 22 laps, but suffered a flat right-front tire while running second with 24 laps remaining. After getting a fresh tire under caution, the 2015 winner of the event was able to end the night with a hard-fought ninth-place finish.
Date: July 19, 2017
Event: Eldora Dirt Derby 150 (Race 11 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (0.5-mile clay oval)
Format: Three Stages; 40 laps / 50 laps / 60 laps
Start/Finish: 4th /9th (running, completed 150 of 150 laps)
Winner: Matt Crafton of ThorSport Racing (Toyota)
Qualifying Race No. 4:
- After posting the fourth fastest time in Wednesday afternoon’s qualifying session, Bell started Qualifying Race No. 4 from the pole. He led all 10 laps en route to the victory and earned the fourth starting position for the 150-lap event.
Stage One Recap:
- Bell moved up to the third position on the first lap of the race and into the runner-up position on lap 14. He remained in the runner-up position when NASCAR called for a competition caution to allow teams to remove mud from the front grill and windshield.
- The field went back green with eight laps remaining in the initial stage and two laps later Bell spun while working the high side off Turn 4.
- He was able to get his truck pointed in the right direction and avoided getting put a lap down. The majority of right side of the truck was crinkled in and the right-front fender was cutting into the tire.
- The stage would end under caution with Bell in the 23rd position.
Stage Two Recap:
- After multiple trips down pit road to repair the damage and replace the right-side tires, Bell started Stage Two from the 24th position.
- Despite communicating that his steering wheel was turned 90 degrees in the wrong direction, the talented wheelman began to march back through the field. He returned to the top 10 on lap 74 and ended up finishing Stage Two in the fourth position.
Final Stage Recap:
- After the top-three truck visited pit road when it opened, Bell inherited the lead. He would remain out front for 22 laps before getting passed by pole sitter Stewart Friesen.
- The 22-year-old driver reported that his Toyota Tundra was getting tighter as the race reached the closing stages. Just before the field went back to green-flag conditions with 22 laps remaining, he communicated that he felt like he had a right-front tire going down. Bell quickly faded toward the rear of the field but was saved when the caution was displayed for a stalled truck.
- Bell came to pit road to have his right-front tire replaced and returned to the track scored in the 14th position for the lap-130 restart.
- He would go on to finish the 150-lap event in the ninth position, giving him top-10 results in all three of his Truck Series starts at the famed half-mile clay oval.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Talk about salvaging a ninth-place finish after that incident early on.
“My crew is really good on pit road. They were able to get it fixed back up. I’m just really bummed for them because they gave me a really really fast truck and I made a mistake there early on and it cost us the race.”
What happened out there tonight?
“First off, I got to say I ruined it for my guys man. They gave me a great Tundra. I really felt like we had the truck to win there, but unfortunately I made a mistake early on that cost us. My guys worked really hard to get us going again and then we got going really good and the truck seemed like it was driving good enough – we had a lot of speed, just miscalculated there on the spin. The lap before I had a lot of grip up in the cushion and it held me really good, so I tried to make speed up there and was just a little bit too low in the slick and spun out. The flat tire really killed us.”
Eldora Dirt Derby Recap:
- Matt Crafton collected his first NCWTS win of 2017 and the 14th of his career. Stewart Friesen finished 1.960 seconds behind Crafton in the runner-up position. Chase Briscoe finished third, while Grant Enfinger and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured 10 cautions for a total of 59 laps. There were seven lead changes among four drivers. Bell led once for 22 laps and continues to lead the Truck Series with 514 laps led on the season.
How Bell’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished seventh
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 15th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Bell leaves the 11th race of the season second in the Truck Series championship standings, just seven tallies behind points leader Johnny Sauter. The Oklahoma native has earned 19 playoff points this season.
Bell will be behind the wheel of the No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action on Saturday, July 29 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Live coverage of the Overton’s 150 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 12:30 p.m. ET on Fox.