Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick seek to be next winner this season
KANSAS CITY, Kans. — In a season that has had 10 winners in the first 12 races, could another new winner emerge from the front row Sunday at Kansas Speedway?
Pole-sitter Christopher Bell has yet to win this season despite being fast at times. Tyler Reddick, within a quarter mile of victory at Bristol before getting spun, still searches for his first win of the year and his career.
Should Reddick triumph, he’d be the fourth first-time Cup winner this season, joining rookie Austin Cindric (Daytona 500), Chase Briscoe (Phoenix) and Ross Chastain (Circuit of the Americas).
Bell has started eight of the first 12 races this year in the top 10, showing that his car is fast. Still, Bell has yet to win this year.
“I just try to focus on doing my job as good as I can,” Bell said Saturday at Kansas Speedway. “It’s very much a team sport. I’m only as good as my mechanics, engineer, my crew chief and they’ve been allowing me to succeed by giving me great equipment.
“Same thing – we have had a lot of pit road issues, but we are all a team. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes on the racetrack, and I’ve never heard anyone on the pit crew come over and tell me that I screwed up. I try to just focus on what I do best and do as good of a job that I can.”
Pit road has been a challenge for Bell and his team. Sunday’s race marks the fifth different pit crew lineup the No. 20 team has had this season. Bell’s team has had four different front tire changers and three different jackmen this year.
On the track, a key aspect will be how much drivers run close to the wall. It’s a line Reddick is known for and likely will run. The key could be how much he runs up there.
“I think as we’ve gone down this path of learning about what this car can take, I actually feel like more now than before it’s even more important to not hit the wall,” Reddick said. “ I mean, the steel body if you hit it with the 550 package it was a pretty big detriment. You would lose some downforce, some side force, but you could run the rest of the race. It wouldn’t end your day if you were able to get to pit road soon enough or didn’t hit it that hard.
“With this car, you don’t have to worry about the body in a lot of aspects of what happens on the racetrack. It’s the suspension underneath it and just if we put a lot of load on these toe links to begin with going through the corner, so it doesn’t take a lot to cause them to bend or begin to fail. Some things have to bend right? If the toe link doesn’t bend and something else bends, then it’s better the toe link than something else. If you do bend it, you have that option to come to pit road and maybe lose a lap. If you’re lucky you’ll only lose a lap fixing it, replacing it.
“I think the risk versus reward is even higher now with the way this car is. I think that’s a good thing. I like that, because more times than not I can run up there and not hit the wall. So, it may seem like I am up there a lot, but I am not making a lot of the huge mistakes and knocking it down that often. It’s a comfortable place for me to be.”