Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Bell: Racing in NASCAR Phoenix finale "tough" after Coy Gibbs passing

NASCAR Cup title contender Christopher Bell says racing after the death of Joe Gibbs Racing vice chairman Coy Gibbs was "tough", and put the race into perspective.

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, DeWalt Toyota Camry

Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Hours before the start of Sunday’s race, in which Bell was one of four drivers competing for the 2022 Cup series championship, he and his fellow JGR drivers were informed of the death of Coy Gibbs, father of 2022 Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs and son of team owner Joe Gibbs, at 49.

The news sent a shockwave through the NASCAR paddock and within the JGR organisation.

“You wake up first thing this morning and super excited and thrilled with life and where you’re at and the opportunity given to you. To receive news like that a couple hours before you get in the car is extremely tough,” said Bell, 27, who was competing for his first series title.

“Just really kind of puts it in perspective that what we’re doing here is not the big picture for sure. Yeah, just thinking of Joe. I just can’t imagine what Joe is going through and the entire Gibbs family. That’s the important piece.”

Bell said he and the other JGR drivers were in shock on the Sunday morning, not knowing whether they should compete or not. Just before the driver introductions, Bell said team president Dave Alpern encouraged them to do so.

“That was an experience like I’ve never gone through in my entire life,” Bell said. “In that moment you don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong and you don’t know if you should get in the race car and race, if you shouldn’t race.”

Bell and his #20 Toyota team – which were one of top performing teams in the playoffs – still managed to give a good account of themselves.

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, DeWalt Toyota Camry

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, DeWalt Toyota Camry

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

Although he struggled in practice and qualified 17th, Bell managed to work his way to 11th by the end of the first stage.

He never led a lap but at one point late in the final stage he was in position to run down eventual winner and series champion Joey Logano - but ended up unable to do so.

A slow final pit stop shuffled Bell back in the field but he rallied to finish 10th in the race and took third in the final season standings, a career-best.

“There were a couple things that we definitely could have done different today, but ultimately (Logano) was lights out all weekend, winning the pole and being super strong in practice,” Bell said.

“We were just kind of playing catch-up, the rest of us were playing catch-up to him. The best car won the championship for sure.”

Bell ended the season with three wins, 12 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes and won four poles. He twice won last-chance elimination races in the playoffs to advance to the title race.

“I think the season was successful. To get to the final four is what every driver in NASCAR’s goals are. I’m very proud of that effort,” he said.

“With 40 or 50 (laps) to go, the last green flag pit stop we put ourselves in position to race for it. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article "Heck of a drive" leaves Chastain as NASCAR Cup title runner-up
Next article The unique achievement Penske ticked off with Logano's NASCAR title

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe