Box Score Info:
Christopher Bell and his Rheem team paid a visit to a hot and steamy Chicagoland Speedway for the Overton’s 300 and race 15 of the 2018 season. After starting the 200-lap event in 11th, Bell grabbed the lead to start the second stage on lap 52, lead 21 laps, and went on to finish 12th following a late-race speeding penalty on lap 167.
With temperatures soaring into the triple digits on Saturday afternoon, the field took the green flag just after 2:30pm local time with Bell working his way inside the top five by lap 10. Continuing his march towards the front, Bell radioed to crew chief Jason Ratcliff on lap 23, while running in fourth, that his Rheem Camry “needed more rear grip.” With his balance “pretty good”, Bell gained a few more spots and ended stage one in second on lap 45. Under the caution, Ratcliff called Bell down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to the Rheem Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted stage two in second on lap 51.
Following the stage two restart, Bell grabbed the lead in turn one and went on to lead 21 laps around the 1.5-mile oval. Losing rear grip during the run, Bell slipped to third on lap 72 and ended stage two in the same position on lap 90. Under the caution, Ratcliff once again called Bell down pit road for four tires, fuel and a round of adjustments to help tighten up the Rheem Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted the final stage in fourth on lap 97.
Bell maneuvered his way into second on lap 105 and maintained his position until the caution flag waved once again on lap 115 for debris. With his Rheem Camry feeling pretty good to start the final stage, Ratcliff once again called Bell down pit road for four fresh Goodyear Eagles, fuel and another adjustment. Following the stop, Bell restarted in fourth on lap 120. Bell continued to run inside the top five until making a green-flag pit stop from fourth on lap 167. Following the four-tire stop, Bell was caught speeding leaving pit road and served a pass through penalty on lap 171. Following the penalty, Bell returned to the track in 15th on lap 172. Despite the setback, Bell continued to battle, ultimately crossing the finish line in the 12th position.
The NXS returns to the track next weekend at Daytona International Speedway for their second visit of the 2018 season at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Coverage of the race begins next Friday, July 6th at 7:30 PM ET live on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
How was the race car today?
“At the end I don’t think I was struggling anywhere, just made a mistake on pit road. At the beginning I was a little bit loose and I kept tightening up and I overall hurt us. Probably just needed to stay a little bit free there and just drive it.”
How difficult it is to stay focused during a day this hot?
“It’s tough, it’s really hot. Gibbs does a really good job taking care of their drivers. Just bummed, that’s all.”