The continued chant from fans is to see more short tracks on the schedule for all three NASCAR National divisions, and Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway was a good example as to why.
From the drop of the green flag to the checkered, drivers battled side-by-side for positions throughout the field. Although the high line has become the preferred groove since the reconfiguration, track officials managed to put down enough sticky compound on the bottom that enabled drivers to be able to get runs underneath each other through the corners.
Prior to the event, a bunch of discussion surrounded Bell, and his future in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. For many, it’s not a matter of if he will get a chance in the top-tier division, but when. Certainly scoring his second win of the season adds merit to that.
Though while everybody wants to move him forward, he says he’s right now comfortable in the Xfinity Series.
“It’s cool to have people talking about it, but I love where I’m at,” he said. “Honestly I love these Xfinity cars. They’re a ton of fun to drive. I sent Wayne (Auton), the Xfinity (Series) competition director, a text this last week saying that I love the Xfinity rules package right now. I don’t know if you want to call it the small spoiler, the small splitter, whatever it is. I feel like dirty air is not really that big of a deal in these cars, so they’re a ton of fun to drive and they’re a lot of fun to race too.”
Bell has always been a driver that likes to challenge himself, and push the envelope. When comparing the rules packages and hearing him say that right now it seems the Cup Series cars “would be a little bit easier to drive than what we’re doing right now,” it makes you wonder if that’s where the comments are coming from.
Regardless, you cannot argue that Bell put together the run that he need to today, as he kept himself up in second to pounce when Justin Allgaier had problems, and was able to work his way around Jones when Jones stayed out on old tires. Bell entered the season as the championship favorite, and this probably won’t be his last win of the year.
But let it be known – he did not have the dominant car today. That honor went to Allgaier, who dominated through the first two stages until mechanical issues sent him to the garage. It adds to the JR Motorsports’ driver’s frustration, as he was taken out of the Las Vegas event with a blown engine, and has not scored a top-five since placing third in the second event of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway – despite showing speed on a weekly basis.
Although JR Motorsports has been right up there with Joe Gibbs Racing in the past couple of seasons, it seems they are lacking this year as none of their drives have truly contended for a win – except for Allgaier today, and Michael Annett winning at Daytona International Speedway. In contrast, Reddick is putting Richard Childress Racing on the map after leaving JRM following his 2018 championship.
As we move into the summer months and the true contenders begin to emerge from the pack, it will be interesting to keep an eye on both teams, as well as Cole Custer and Stewart-Haas Racing.
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