“It looked like I was driving his car,” Ross Chastain said with a wide smile Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “Blocking all over the place! I think he just made one too many blocks, and I was to his right rear. What did he say?”
Bell said Chastain indeed factored into the Turn 4 crash that eliminated both drivers from contention with 40 laps remaining..
Though the Joe Gibbs Racing driver took the blame for moving his No. 20 Toyota into the path of Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet, he also said he would have refrained from throwing the block if had been another driver attempting the pass on the outside.
“Absolutely,” Bell said. “This sport is a game of respect, and I try to race people how they race me.”
Christopher Bell in the wall!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 7, 2022
Chastain was amused by Bell’s reply (“He got emotional.”) but also conceded he was culpable in the wreck, which also resulted in Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez getting caught a lap down after a pit stop.
“Honestly, if I would have just lifted, it would have been better for me, Daniel and Christopher,” said Chastain, who is familiar with criticism for his aggression and blocking behind the wheel. “There’s really no circumstance where we need a caution right there, so when he gave me the option of lift or crash, I should have lifted. I just thought I had a lane to his right. I should have just pushed him instead of trying to get to his right rear.”
Bell, who had led 31 laps and essentially was racing for the win by trying to keep Chastain behind him on fresher tires, said he has grown tired of yielding in those situations.
“I’ve been in put in that exact same position on the flip side probably 30 or 40, maybe 50 times this year, and I’ve lifted,” Bell said. “So I made a mistake, but he had an option to lift and cut us both a break, and he didn’t, and we wrecked. … If I was going to win the race, I was going to have to beat him, so I was trying to make his life hard.”
Would he do it again?
“I think it depends on the situation,” Bell said. “At that moment, we were racing for the win. And I felt like it was going to help my case to win to slow him up. And if we’re racing in the playoffs, and I have to be more mindful of my points position, obviously my thoughts are different.
“But in that situation, it was essentially win or bust, and I thought that was going to help me win the race.”
Suarez, who led 33 laps at Michigan, and Chastain, who led 29, both said Saturday that their cars would have been able to control the finish of the race if not for the yellow.
“For sure,” said Chastain, who also crashed while racing for the lead with Hamlin in the July 25 race at Pocono. “It was going to take both of us. Earlier in the race, (Bell) pushed (Denny Hamlin) by me, and I couldn’t do anything with him. But with both of us, I thought we had a shot. You never know.
“I just wish I would have lifted to live to see the next lap.”