Toyota NCWTS Phoenix Post-Race Recap - 11.10.17
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 8th
Can you take us through the side-by-side racing with Noah Gragson?
“It was really intense and we were both doing everything we could to go for the win. It’s a big advantage to be on the outside because you have all the side force and whenever you crowd him like that you take all the air off the side of his truck. I knew that I was playing with fire there and that there was a good possibility that I was going to get us both in trouble. He (Noah Gragson) was doing a really good job down there of hanging onto it and keeping it up – we were just racing really hard and it didn’t work out.”
Was this one of the trucks that you were taking to Homestead?
“No, we have our baby back at the shop. This doesn’t affect anything at Homestead other than we just really wanted to win.”
How do you put the frustration of today behind you?
“It sucks to not win again, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Homestead is a totally different race track from this. What we did here today relates nothing to next weekend. From starting midnight tonight, we’ll focus on the XFINITY race tomorrow and from there turn our focus to Homestead. Nothing that happened here will have anything to do with Homestead. They’re nothing alike and Homestead is next week, a totally different race track.”
What was the damage like on the race truck?
“It was junk. Even if the tires were up and they felt like they were up, there was no way that I was going to be able to hold those guys off. The splitter was in the race track and the thing is just junked.”
Are you mad at Noah for the accident?
“Everybody that drives a truck or any NASCAR, the aerodynamics are huge. Like I said earlier, you’re at a major advantage whenever you’re on the outside because you can just pinch that guy down and make that guys loose, loose, loose and when they get loose, they lose momentum. You’re playing with fire whenever you do it and that’s the risk you run whenever you run like that and it didn’t work out for me.
What will you miss about racing in the Truck Series?
“I’m going to miss driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports because they’re great people and they’re fun to be around. I’m going to make sure I still go and hang out with them. It’s kind of surreal to think I only have one more truck race. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”
How much pressure do you feel racing for two championships next season?
“I don’t know about pressure, but it’s great practice and great experience. Last year I was able to make the final four in the truck deal so that was great experience going into this year where I have an awesome shot at winning a championship. Regardless of what happens next Saturday night at Homestead, it’s going to be great experience for me and I’ll understand what that’s like to be racing for a championship if the opportunity arises again next year and I make it to Homestead. That’s the biggest thing, Toyota has done such a great job at making sure that I’m prepared for the next level and we saw it whenever I moved into the Truck Series, I ran the last three or four races to prepare for the following year and once again I have the final three or four XFINITY races this year. It’s awesome to be able to run for a championship and I’m going to go out there and race my heart out. It’s great practice for next year.”
RYAN TRUEX, No. 16 Kobe Toyopet Toyota Tundra, Hattori Racing Enterprises
Finishing Position: 19th
Can you walk us through the accident?
“I don’t know, man. I saw them five-wide and I had a huge run. I drove it to the bottom and my truck just wasn’t where it needed to be tonight and I saw an opportunity. They just got all bunched up and I was going to go for it, so I went for it. We were six-wide. I got hooked in the right-rear I think. I tried to stay as low as I can and I tried to stay away from the 8 (John Hunter Nemechek) and I was pretty much along for the ride. It was quite a wreck. I want to thank Phoenix for building good walls because honestly that didn’t hurt like I thought it was going to. When you get hooked like that, you’re never looking forward to hitting the wall with the left side so thanks to them and NASCAR and everybody. Just sucks. Thanks to my team and everyone – we’ve turned a lot of heads this year and we’ve still got one more to win. We’ll put our heads down and go to Homestead (Miami Speedway).”
What happened on the backstretch?
“We wrecked. I saw them five-wide and I just had a huge run. It’s just so hard to pass and restarts are everything and I saw my opportunity. I tried to be aggressive, but at the same time I don’t want to mess anybody’s night up. We saw what happened on the restart ahead of this and saw two Chase guys get taken out and I didn’t want to be the guy to do that. I saw the 8 (John Hunter Nemecheck) on the outside of me and I tried to hold my line going into three and it looks like the guys outside of me got together and came down and just got in my right rear at the worst possible time. Just sent me straight up the fence. Not much you can do in that situation. I saw fifth place and I was in 12th and I thought I could make it happen and it was close. I’m glad my Tundra was safe and kept me feeling alright and I’m surprised at how good I feel. Thanks to my team for building me a good truck. I wish I could have got a better run, but that’s how it goes sometimes in Truck racing.”
BEN RHODES, No. 27 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra, Thorsport Racing
Finishing Position: 20th
What are your thoughts on the wreck?
“Yeah, you know, there’s definitely a time and place to go three-wide. I think that there was still a lot of racing to do. I could have done the same move to the guy in front of me, but chose not to do it because it wasn’t the time. He (Austin Cindric) put me in a bad place and trying to do everything I could to keep the spot, but once you file into Turn 1 we were all going to wreck, so I’m not sure that was the right move on his part. I did everything I could to just make sure we were having a good day. We were in front of him all day long and we were going to be into the final four and I don’t know. It looked like a desperation move to me because there’s so much racing left to do. I guess if I was in his position, I mean I can’t blame him, but it’s definitely not the move I would have liked to see this early in the race. There’s so much to go on. You know, the line in front of me started checking up and I could have done the same thing, but you have to be smart on the restarts, especially when you have what? 70 laps to go still?”
Was Austin Cindric justified in nosing underneath there?
“Well, he didn’t have the position on me at all. His nose was barely in there, he didn’t back up, he wouldn’t ever have made the corner, so, you know, just driving over his head I guess. I don’t know. We’re just going to go forward from here to Homestead (Miami Speedway) and finish out the season strong. I guess we’ll still have fifth-place to cheer about. Just, you know, unfortunate for my teammate (Matt Crafton). He was having a really good run today. It’s sad that we tore up two good trucks for Duke Thorson (team owner) and ThorSport Racing. There’s a lot of hard workers at ThorSport racing that put these trucks together and, you know, just sad to see that stuff happen.”
Was that a dangerous move Austin Cindric made?
“Yeah, he (Austin Cindric) was making a risky move with a lot of racing still to go. The inside line wasn’t going the fastest. I could have made the same move, but I chose not to because it wasn’t the right time. When you do that here at Phoenix, it’s not very wide in Turn 1 – it’s a sharp turn and he barely – he didn’t even have the position on me. He just barely had his nose looking and, you know, I think had he done that it would have caused a wreck. Regardless, it would have caused a wreck, so I just – I don’t think it was the right move and we’re just going to move forward for Homestead. I don’t really have a lot of words for him right now.”
What were your emotions after the accident?
“Yeah, I was pretty mad. They got me calmed down there in the medical center, so we’re just going to move forward from here and finish out the season strong and show everybody that had we not get taken out here that we should be the champion.”
MATT CRAFTON, No. 88 Ideal Doors/Menards Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 21st
What caused the accident?
“The 19 just hooked the 27 (Ben Rhodes) – no racing about that – but I just said, I told Ben (Rhodes), ‘That ain’t far, but next week’.”
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.