Bell Strong in Stages 1&2 but fades late at North Wilkesboro

Christopher Bell made his first truck start since 2018 on Saturday afternoon at the Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. This was also the first Craftsman Truck Series race at the facility since 1996. The 2017 Craftsman Truck Series Champion would have a strong stage one and two, but couldn’t find the balance in stage three and finished P16 on the day.
Bell would get quickly reacquainted with the truck series with a 50 minute practice session on Friday afternoon. Bell would end the day ninth when it came to ten lap average times. The No. 61 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra TRD Pro posted the 9th-fastest time in qualifying on Saturday morning and took the green flag from the inside of row five. Bell would run in the top five for most of stage one reporting that he was tight in the center on the aged surface of North Wilkesboro. A caution midway through stage on would see Bell bring the No. 61 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra TRD Pro down pit road for four tires, fuel, and an adjustment. This would prove to be the right call as Bell would stay in the top five for the entirety of the first stage. A late caution again in stage one would see Bell come down for four fresh Goodyear tires. The No. 61 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra TRD Pro finished stage one in position number three.
Crew chief Jon Leonard advised Bell to stay out at the stage break as only a handful of laps were on his tires. Stage two would see a long green flag run where tire conservation would be crucial. Bell would work his way up to the third position after some drivers were on a different strategy. However, late in the run of stage two, Bell would fade outside the top ten. Bell reported that he had lost all rear grip throughout the run and was just hanging on until the end of the stage.
Bell would work his way up to P7 early in stage three. After a couple of quick cautions, Bell would bring the No. 61 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra TRD Pro down pit road on lap 172 for another fresh set of Goodyear tires. On the ensuing run, Bell would radio that he seemed to find the balance of the truck searching a few new lines on the short run. Bell would pit again with around 35 laps left in the Tyson 250. From there the balance swung back to the tight side, after the green white checkered finish, Bell would cross the line in the 16th position.
Christopher Bell Quote:
“It was really awesome to get back in a truck in what feels like forever. I miss racing in the Craftsman Truck Series and this was a fun track to get back behind the wheel. We unloaded pretty tight and tried to work on it Friday, and I feel that paid off when we went out for qualifying. My goal was to be somewhere in the top ten, and we accomplished that. We had pretty good mid-run speed but lacked the long run speed. I had a really fun time racing the No. 61 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. I learned a lot for the All-Star race on Sunday.”