MID-RACE ACCIDENT TOOK TJ BELL OUT OF THE COPART 200 RESULTING IN A 24TH PLACE FINISH AT GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY. Qualifying fifth, Bell was well on his way to capturing another top-10 finish when a competitor hit him from behind and ended...
MID-RACE ACCIDENT TOOK TJ BELL OUT OF THE COPART 200 RESULTING IN A 24TH
PLACE FINISH AT GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY.
Qualifying fifth, Bell was well on his way to capturing another top-10 finish when a competitor hit him from behind and ended the day early for the #11 Red Horse Racing team.
MADISON, IL. (September 12, 2009)- Heading back to Gateway International Raceway for the fourth time, TJ Bell was ready to settle some unfinished business at the track. Bell had experienced great runs at GIR but never was able to finish a race. He felt confident this weekend would turn that streak around after seeing how good his truck felt after practice. Bell qualified fifth for the Copart 200 and was having another good run going until bad luck bit him again. At the half-way point of the race, another competitor hit Bell from behind on the restart and sent him spinning into the inside wall. Bell was ok, but his #11 Toyota Tundra was not. He took the wounded machine to the garage where the team determined the damage was too severe to fix. Bell was out of the race and was forced to accept a 24th place finish.
Bell and the #11 Red Horse Racing team used two practice sessions on Friday to get their truck tuned up for the race. Feeling confident in his Tundra, Bell put it in the fifth starting spot for the Copart 200.
When the green flag dropped, Bell was practicing patience and taking care of his truck to make sure he would be in contention in the final laps of the race. The first caution flag flew on lap seven and Bell radioed the crew that his Tundra was loose right in the center but tight off the corners. He restarted from the sixth position.
Unwilling to give up any ground to his fellow competitors, Bell was racing three wide when necessary to maintain his position. He was able to keep the sixth spot but still needed help with the handling of his #11 machine. A caution on lap 38 gave him the opportunity to hit pit road. Now reporting being tight center and off of the corners, crew chief Rick Gay called for air pressure adjustments during the first stop for four fresh tires. While Bell was trying to peel out of his pit box, the #11 stalled and had to be pushed to get it started. Bell reported that his clutch was no longer working which would cause the truck to stall every time he pitted. Bell returned to pit road the following lap to fill up with fuel. The #11 stalled again and the crew worked to push-start it. Losing valuable time on pit road, Bell restarted from the 16th position.
During the next green flag run, Bell was struggling back in traffic. Gay told his driver that he was running faster lap times than all the trucks in front of him. Bell would have to set up and pass each truck one at a time to make his way back to the front. When the caution came out on lap 69, he had reached the 14th spot. Bell told his crew that the truck was not rotating in the center of the corners like he needed it to. Gay called him back to pit road on lap 77 for four fresh tires. Still suffering clutch issues, the #11 had to be pushed out of his box. He returned the following lap for fuel and a track bar adjustment and the crew gave him another push start. Once back on track, he restarted 12th.
During the restart, the competitors in front of Bell got bottled up and were holding up the trucks behind. Bell saw what was happening and began slowing to not hit the truck in front of him. Unfortunately the truck behind Bell was not so perceptive. He hit Bell's rear bumper so hard it picked up the rear tires of the #11. Unable to steer with only two tires on the ground, Bell was turned into the inside wall. He suffered extensive damage and brought his wounded machine back to the garage. The damage was too severe for Bell to finish the race so he was forced to accept a 24th place finish after having such a strong truck.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Loudon, New Hampshire this weekend.