P1 Groupe driver and California native Matt Bell returned to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this past weekend to run at the famed Watkins Glen International Raceway. The road course specialist was tagged to drive the #39 Ford Mustang for Go Green Racing in what was his second career NASCAR start, the first coming this past June at Road America. An uphill battle that Bell faced throughout the weekend was the lack of seat time as weather and a limited practice schedule hindered the 26-year old in becoming acquainted with the stock car. Bell would only be able to enter the race car for one lap before weather forced NASCAR to cancel the remainder of the only practice the series had scheduled, leaving qualifying to be the only time the Grand-Am Road Racing regular would sit behind the wheel before the green flag waved. “It was difficult to get a feel of the car before qualifying due to the weather. This condensed practice time, but everyone worked really hard to prepare best we could” Bell stated. The road racer used qualifying to become more familiar with the car that he stated “fit him perfectly,” leading to a slower time than he wanted and 37th place starting position. “I experienced the same limited practice time at Road America, being locked in on points allowed me to use the qualifying session as a practice of sorts, still trying to set a good time, but mostly focusing on learning the nuances of the car itself and to test how the car would react in certain corners allowed me to make some moves during the race.”
Having figured out certain areas of the track and what the American muscle car could handle, Bell prepared for the start of the green flag. At about 2:35pm local time the green flag waved beginning the 2012 Zippo 200 which was aired on ABC and Bell began working his way through the field as if he were a series veteran. In the first full green flag lap Bell had worked his way from the 37th position to 28th, picking competitors off corner by corner. By Lap 10, the #39 Global Barter Corporation Ford Mustang was running 24th and challenging for a Top-20 position on track. As the California native progressed through turns 1 and 2, he noticed the lack of grip the car had on the right side compared to previous laps. By Turn 3 Bell’s right rear tire completely ripped apart causing the car to strike the wall in the corner where the most speed is carried around Watkins Glen International. The incident forced Bell to retire earlier than expected but his performance of driving through the field early in the race not only turned some heads but showed that this proven race winner can become a serious force within the NASCAR ranks.
“What started out as a very promising race turned very sour quickly” Bell stated. “The car fit me perfectly and I knew I had the power to make passes when I needed to. Go Green Racing and everyone involved with effort did a fantastic job throughout this process. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this team and if the opportunity presents itself again, I would be happy to join them again. From what I hear, the right rear tire went down, and like I said, it’s unfortunate the way the day ended for us. I do feel like I learned a lot from everyone. With each NASCAR start I have, I’m becoming more comfortable in the car, and I feel with more testing and practice time, the results will soon follow.
Bell also took the time to thank everyone who helped put the opportunity together. “I really can’t thank P1 Groupe and Global Barter Corporation enough for putting this deal together as well as the support I’ve had from my family, friends and everyone within Grand-Am Road Racing. We’ll be back soon, and personally, I can’t wait!”
P1 Groupe PR