Michigan: TJ Bell race report

TJ BELL CAUGHT UP IN AN EARLY-RACE MELAY AND FINISHES 18TH AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. Bell was on the move until he got caught up in an accident that damaged his ...


Bell was on the move until he got caught up in an accident that damaged his #11 Red Horse Racing machine. The team fixed up his Toyota Tundra and Bell was able to run the rest of the race and take home a top-20 finish in the Michigan 200.

BROOKLYN, MI. (June 13, 2009)- TJ Bell and his #11 Red Horse Racing team were excited to get to the Irish Hills of Michigan. Before he ever took to the track, Bell felt he had an advantage with Michigan International Speedway being so similar to California Speedway, where he earned his best finish of the season. Qualifying 19th, Bell knew he would have to work hard to get to the front. He was on a forward march when another competitor spun and Bell was collected in his accident just 33 laps into the 100-lap event. Disappointed and frustrated, Bell drove his #11 Tundra to the garage for repairs. He returned to the track several laps later and ran his own race until the checkered flag flew. He was credited with an 18th place finish, his fifth top-20 finish of the season.

After two practice sessions on Friday, the #11 Red Horse Racing team felt they had had a very competitive truck for Saturday afternoon's race. Bell qualified 19th for the Michigan 200 and reported that his Toyota Tundra was driving really well, but didn't have as much speed as he wanted on the straight-aways.

The green flag waved on the Michigan 200 and Bell didn't have to run many laps to determine that his truck was too loose. He and crew chief, Rick Gay discussed making a track bar adjustment on the first stop. An early caution came out on lap eight and the #11 Red Horse Racing team opted to hit pit road for fuel and a track bar adjustment. Several competitors stayed out and Bell restarted 21st.

The adjustment helped the condition of the truck and Bell immediately began his forward charge. Just six laps after the restart, he had moved into the 16th position. Reporting that the truck was better but the loose condition persisted, Bell was happy to see another caution on lap 28.

He returned to pit road on lap 29 for four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment. The following lap, he picked up fuel and a wedge adjustment. Quick work on pit road put Bell in the 13th position for the restart.

Just one lap later, another competitor in front of Bell spun on the racetrack. Several trucks were diving in all directions to avoid the accident. Bell drove the #11 to the bottom of the racetrack to avoid making contact, but another driver was trying the same move and squeezed Bell between himself and the spinning truck. The #11 sustained nose and left front fender damage and limped to pit road for repairs.

The crew worked quickly to put bear bond on the fender and keep Bell from going a lap down. After minor repairs, the #11 Toyota Tundra headed back out on the track. Bell reported that the steering wheel was pointed at a 45 degree angle. Gay called his driver back to pit road and the team worked to reset the toe of the truck. Bell returned to the track in the 21st position and two laps down to the leaders.

Just 10 laps later, Bell headed back to pit road under green flag conditions to pick up left side tires only. Seeing the tire wear, Gay called for the crew to change right side tires also, and noticed that the right front tire was totally worn out. The tire wear indicated a bigger problem than the team could diagnose on pit road so they headed to the garage to make more extensive repairs. After spending 13 laps in the garage for the necessary repairs, the #11 Red Horse Racing Tundra headed back out to finish the race. Bell was running equal lap times to the leaders but was back in the 20th position and 17 laps down. He focused on finishing the race and was able to cross the start/finish line the final time in the 18th position.

The NASCAR Camping World Series will head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this week.

-credit: rhr

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Series NASCAR Truck
Teams Red Horse Racing