HOMESTEAD, Fla – Christopher Bell may go down as the best driver to ever race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series to not win a championship. In two full time seasons, the Oklahoma native won 15 combined times. Throw in a win in 2017 too as a part timer and he ends his NXS career for the interim with 16 trips to victory lane. Bell, won seven times in 2018 and eight more times this past season.
Now, he moves up to the Cup level with Leavine Family Racing and if his skill is able to be shown in NASCAR’s premiere series, he will never be eligible to compete for a championship in the NXS again.
Unfortunately for him, neither dominating years resulted in a championship on the NXS level. Even crazier is that he didn’t even finish in the top two in the final standings in either year too.
Bell, finished 11th in last year’s Ford EcoBoost 300 which would place him fourth in the final standings. On Saturday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Bell would come home fifth in his No. 20 Toyota.
While on the surface some would blame the confusion on whether to pit or not on his final stop which eventually led to him missing pit road, the reality of it is, while that did cost him some time on the race track, it didn’t cost him the championship.
Tyler Reddick was just that good again. He started on the pole and led a race high 64 of 200 laps on Saturday. He won last year and won again this year. He has finishes of first (twice) and fourth in three NXS tries at Homestead. In Truck competition on the 1.5-mile track, he finished sixth, third and second respectively too.
On the season, he had 27 top 10’s and six wins. He also had three top three finishes over the final four starts of the season and 13 top five results over the last 17 races as well.
Second place was Cole Custer. He started the race in second and would finish there for the second straight year too. In fact, Custer has brought his No. 00 Ford home in the top two for three straight years on the South Florida track. He led 182 laps in his win in 2017 and 95 more last year. Also, Custer had seven of his nine career wins this season alone to go along with nine top eight finishes over his last 10 starts to the year.
Those were the best two cars out there on Saturday. It wasn’t a fluke to why they finished 1-2 in each of the last two years in the final standings.
Bell, just isn’t at his best at Homestead. He also finished 36th in 2017. This was his first top five in three career NXS starts. On top of that, while he did win eight times in 2019, he had just 21 top 10’s. He also backed his way into the Championship 4 as he had four finishes of 12th or worse in his last six starts on the year.
So don’t blame the pit road mishap on him not winning the title. The code word to pit was said but his spotter didn’t likely hear it. Bell, missed pit road but was already slowed down.