Bell Finishes 11th in Rain-Shortened Toyota 500 at Darlington
May 21, 2020

Date: May 20, 2020
Event: Toyota 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile egg-shaped oval)
Format: 228 laps (Stages 60 laps / 65 laps / 103 laps)
Start / Finish: 24th/11th (Running, completed 208 of 208 laps) 
Point Standings: 29th

Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 1 Winner: Clint Bowyer
Stage 2 Winner:  Clint Bowyer


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60)

  • Christopher Bell started 24th for the Wednesday night race at Darlington Raceway.  The starting position was based on the finishing order from the Darlington race on Sunday. 
  • Going into the race NASCAR scheduled a competition caution for lap 25 since, once again, the cars took to the track without practice or qualifying.
  • Bell was up to 19th on the track when the competition caution was displayed for the field.  Bell came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment hoping to gain some lateral grip.
  • The handling continued to get looser for Bell and at the end of stage one he had fallen back to 25th.  Bell brought his Procore Toyota Camry down pit road for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 69-125)

  • Bell started 28th and finished 15th in stage two.
  • The balance improved over the first part of stage two and under caution on lap 83 Bell reported back that it was the best balance he had.  The team opted not to pit while others did and restarted sixth on lap 86.
  • Bell held his ground in the top 10 until fresher tires prevailed.  While running 12th a caution came out on lap 108.  Bell reported to his team that the balance was good, but the handling migrated loose and the last adjustment was a big gain.  In an effort to tighten up the No. 95, Bell pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. 
  • Bell restarted 15th on lap 113 and maintained that position to close out stage two 15th on lap 125.  At the stage break Bell came back down pit road for four tires, fuel, track bar and air pressure adjustments. 


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 132-208)

  • Bell started stage three 18th and crossed the finish line 11th as rain came and ended the race before the scheduled distance.
  • The handling migrated to tight and Bell told the team he was on the splitter to start stage three. 
  • The No. 95 team tried wedge and air pressure adjustments over the final stage to loosen up the handling and get the car off the splitter. 
  • Bell was able to capitalize on tires, combined with the adjustments, and was about to crack into the top 10 when the caution came out on lap 199 as rain started to fall on the track.  NASCAR kept the cars on track as long as they could under caution hoping for an opportunity to get back racing, but Mother Nature prevailed.
  • Bell crossed the finish line 11th, his best career NASCAR Cup Series finish and was the highest finishing Rookie at Darlington.


Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 95 Procore Toyota Camry

Solid run tonight. Talk about that finish.
"We made the most out of those last couple restarts. I was fortunate enough to restart on the top and that's a big advantage at a place like Darlington. I was able to bounce up through there those last couple restarts and make the most out of it."

This weekend is your first Coke 600. Talk about your excitement heading into the tour's longest race.
"Yeah, just pretty anxious about it. Obviously, it's a really long race, so trying to make sure I'm as prepared as I can be. I just want to do a good job. I want to make sure I see the end of the race. After that one, the rest of them are going to feel short."

Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 24th.  The race will be broadcast at 6:00 p.m. ET on FOX.