Atlanta: TJ Bell race report

TJ BELL CAPTURES ANOTHER TOP-15 FINISH AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY Bell ran in the top-ten for most of the American Commercial Lines 200 digging his way up to fifth place with a late race caution causing him to drop back to land the ...

TJ BELL CAPTURES ANOTHER TOP-15 FINISH AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Bell ran in the top-ten for most of the American Commercial Lines 200 digging his way up to fifth place with a late race caution causing him to drop back to land the #11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra a 12th place finish.

Hampton, GA (March 7,2009)-Riding the momentum from his first top-five finish two weeks ago in Fontana, Bell put the No.11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra in the 19th starting spot for the Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Staying in the top-ten for much of the 130-lap event, Bell looked to be a strong contender for a top-five finish. However, when the #11 team calculated the fuel mileage finding themselves two laps short of the finish causing them to pit for fuel with only 15 laps left in the race. This was the third top-15 finish in a row for the #11 Red Horse Racing team.

TJ Bell and crew chief Rick Gay began working together for the first time this year and have already experienced great success together. The team worked hard on the truck in both practice sessions on Friday to give Bell another solid finish. Although the #11 Toyota Tundra ended up in the 19th qualifying position for the American Commercial Lines 200, Bell felt he had a strong truck under him for the 130 lap race.

When the green flag dropped, it marked the fourth start for Bell at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and this time he was ready and quickly drove his way into the top-10. Reporting on lap 16 that the truck was sliding around in the rear and starting to get tight from center off, he drove another twelve laps until lap 29 when he was able to pit the #11 Toyota Tundra due to debris on the track. Bell was relieved there was a caution, as he commented that he was "killing the right front". The #11 crew made adjustments to the right rear wedge and took four tires. Bell drove out from the pits in the ninth position.

Spending the next 20 laps battling for the seventh position, Bell discovered his truck was too tight to run the top groove, and had to use the apron to turn the truck. Lap 66 brought another caution, and crew chief Rick Gay and Bell discussed how they would free up the rear end from being too tight and kicking up the track. The team made a few more adjustments to the track bar and rear wedge and off Bell went to take to the track again in the eighth position.

With 50 laps to go, Bell asked Gay if they were good to go the rest of the way on fuel. Unfortunately, Gay explained the team just calculated the fuel mileage and they were two laps short and were in need of a caution to pit for fuel.

Bell was in the fifth position when NASCAR flew the yellow flag with only fifteen laps to go in the race. Crew chief Rick Gay having to deal with the new Camping World Truck Series pit road rules regarding no gas on the same pit stop as changing tires, opted to only take two right side tires, knowing the #11 team would have to make a second pit stop for fuel. Unfortunately, many of the other trucks stayed out on the track and opted to take their chances on fuel mileage. When Bell exited the pits after making his stop for fuel, he found himself back in line for the restart in the 11th position.

"I've raced three times before this race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and this is the worst I have actually felt the track. The conditions were so slick and the tires were tough to race with, I really had no grip in the long runs as I used the tires up. Our #11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra team had great pit stops all day long. Rick and the crew made great changes, but I guess we just didn't realize how loose we would be putting only the right side tires on at the end. Our team is coming together really well, we have only had three races together, and I really feel good about this team. I am not thrilled with my finish, but I feel we learned a lot today." said Bell.

Today's race was a grueling battle, and Bell drove a great race, taking his #11 Toyota Tundra all the way up the field battling in the top-10 most of the day. Despite fighting a loose truck at the end, Bell landed his Red Horse Racing #11 Toyota a solid 12th place finish. With three races under his belt for the 2009 season, Bell finds himself sitting in the 8th position in drivers' points, just one point shy of the 7th place position.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Martinsville, Virginia later this month.

-credit: rhr

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Series NASCAR Truck
Teams Red Horse Racing