Christopher Bell is once again in a NASCAR Cup Series playoff hole, but this time not of his own doing after getting caught in the Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson mess at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Bell was collected on the frontstretch on lap 95 when Wallace spun Kyle Larson across the track. Wallace appeared to retaliate for the No. 5 racing him wide off Turn 4, which resulted in the 23XI driver bouncing off the wall.
Bell’s No. 20 Toyota was heavily damaged when Larson’s Chevrolet came across the track, hitting him and then the wall. Although the Joe Gibbs Racing team tried to make repairs on pit road, the 10-minute Damaged Vehicle Policy clock expired and forced Bell to retire from the race.
“Just the [No. 45], Bubba, got run into the wall and obviously retaliation on his side,” said Bell. “We got the short end of the stick.”
Bell will finish 34th and likely be last on the playoff grid when the South Point 400 concludes. He was running inside the top 10 when the crash occurred.
“It’s disappointing because our performance is capable of racing for the championship, and it doesn’t appear that we’re going to get to,” Bell said of being an innocent bystander. “Just disappointing.”
Bell and Wallace are Toyota teammates. Bell said he didn’t know if Wallace should be penalized for what looked intentional.
“Follow [the] protocol of whatever they’ve [NASCAR] done in the past,” he said.
Unfortunately, being behind in the playoffs it not uncommon for Bell. In the last round, he faced a must-win situation at the Charlotte Roval to advance into the third round — one that also started with a DNF in the first race. Homestead-Miami Speedway and Martinsville Speedway are next on the schedule.
“The good thing is I feel better about winning one of those two races than I did winning the Roval,” said Bell. “We’ve just had really, really strong Camrys, really all year long. We will see if we can go pull another rabbit out of the hat.”