Date: June 14, 2020
Event: Dixie Vodka 400 (Round 12 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps (Stages 80 laps / 80 laps / 107 laps)
Start / Finish: 36th/8th (Running, Completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standings: 24th
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80)
- Christopher Bell started 36th in his No. 95 Rheem-Smurfit Kappa Toyota Camry at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The starting lineup was based on a random draw.
- Before the cars could roll off pit road to start the race a brief shower caught turn four and wet the track surface. After a short delay, the cars were able to take the green flag.
- Four laps into stage one NASCAR red flagged the field for severe weather in the area. Just when racing was going to resume the red flag was back out for lightning in the vicinity of the track.
- After the second red flag the field was able to get a few laps in and race their way to the competition caution. Bell had worked his way up to 23rd and said the handling was loose off the turns. Bell pitted for four tires, fuel and for tape under the competition caution.
- The field had to come down pit road one more time during stage one for another weather-related red flag for the field.
- The day race quickly turned into a night race after the third red flag delay and by the conclusion of stage one Bell had worked his way up to 22nd in the No. 95 Rheem-Smurfit Kappa Toyota.
- Bell pitted at the stage break for four tires, fuel wedge and packer adjustments to help him with forward drive to start stage two.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 88-160)
- Bell started 25th and finished 12th in stage two.
- Stage two went caution free under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bell started 25th and steadily worked his way through the field. The balance was better on his Toyota, but he needed a little help through the center.
- After a round of green flag stops and some adjustments to his No. 95 Rheem-Smurfit Kappa Toyota Bell was up to 15th.
- Bell continued his forward momentum and closed out stage two 12th.
- The car was loose off on the long run, so at the stage break Bell pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 167-267)
- Bell started stage three 12th and crossed the finish line eighth.
- Three laps into the final stage the caution was out on the track. Bell started 12th but was up to eighth by the caution and said his car was tight to fire, but he liked the forward drive.
- Bell made another pit stop for four tires and fuel and maintained his track position with the help of his pit crew.
- The field resumed racing on lap 175 with Bell eighth on the track.
- Bell held his ground as the field cycled through another round of green flag pit stops to take them to the end of the 267-lap event. Bell crossed the finish line eighth, earning his best career cup finish and his third top-10 finish of the 2020 season.
Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 95 Rheem-Smurfit Kappa Toyota Camry
You had a tough draw in qualifying, and then just continued to move forward all evening. Talk about your career-best run.
"Our Rheem Camry was really, really loose to start the night and then Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) did a great job adjusting on it got it pretty close to where I was happy and then we were able to pick our way though there. The races are so long – there are so many yellows – that I really wasn't worried about our starting position. I knew that if we had a car that was good; we were going to get up front."
What has changed at LFR over the last couple of races? The finishes have been solid and you seem to be marching forward.
"I think that it's all just coming together. There was a lot of adjustment over the off season with Jason coming on board, the new partnership with (Joe) Gibbs, so it was just tough to get on the same page. I'm not going to say that we're ready to make the next step, but at least we are being competitive the majority of weeks and we just have to keep it up."
Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500 on Sunday, June 21st. The race will be broadcast at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX.