Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
Race 9 of 33 – 300.58 miles, 113 laps
April 27, 2019
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Tyler Reddick*
2nd, Gray Gaulding*
3rd, CHRISTOPHER BELL
4th, Chase Brisco*
5th, Austin Cindric*
17th, MATT MILLS
18th, BRANDON JONES
19th, VINNIE MILLER
20th, MAX TULLMAN
21st, CODY WARE
26th, JEFFREY EARNHARDT
36th, CHAD FINCHUM
37th, JOEY GASE
Supra driver Christopher Bell was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) event at Talladega Superspeedway as he finished third.
Bell took his turn at the front of the field twice for 16 laps and will qualify for next week’s Dash-4-Cash at Dover International Speedway to compete for $100,000.
Fellow Toyota teammates and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Brandon Jones (18th) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (26th) both were near the front throughout the event, but circumstances shuffled Jones to the rear on the closing laps and an incident with four laps remaining ended the day early.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How difficult were the closing laps of the race with everyone jockeying for position?
“It’s a lot of blocking and listening to your spotter. Speedway racing and especially defensive racing whenever you’re up front at speedways is my weakness. To get out of there with a top-four and be in the Dash-4-Cash next week is something I’m really proud of and that was what we had circled. Obviously, we want to win, but to be able to get a top-four and know that we have a shot at $100,000 next week at Dover is something I’m smiling ear-to-ear about.”
How do you feel about your chances to win at Dover next weekend?
“Can we go tomorrow? Please.”
How intense was the racing?
“It definitely wasn’t the ride-around session we had at Daytona so that was a lot of fun. Very intense moments – I thought I was going to crash a couple times. I hope the fans got their money’s worth there.”
What was going through your head during the red flag?
“Just top-four, I just wanted to run top-four so bad. I know going to Dover that we were going to have an excellent shot at winning the race so really wanted to be in that Dash-4-Cash.”
How do you balance being aggressive to win versus taking it too far and risking a wreck?
“It’s all a delicate balance. You can keep making moves and trying to win the race or get crashed really easily. The 2 (Tyler Reddick) car was really fast. Obviously, RCR (Richard Childress Racing) has a really strong speedway package. They probably deserve to win, but we’re going to beat them next week.”
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 1st Foundation Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 18th
How were you able to come back from the spin on lap eight of the race?
“I told these guys, we’re never out of the fight. We had that spin, the way this tri-oval is, it has that transition in it and I was just right in that spot trying to make too many moves. I learned that lesson really quick and never got back on that transition. All in all, these guys did really good all week. They never lost composure and just had another unfortunate day at the end of it. That’s a lot of confidence for us that we can have a mishap like that where we can have something like that happen and come back to stay on track.”
Was the plan of the race to stick with your teammates as much as possible?
“I wanted to do that from the beginning and Jeffrey (Earnhardt) was up there as well with us the entire day. There were some points where I was trying to work with them pretty good too, but coming down to two or three to go, you try to start doing moves that will help you win the race. They did a great job all day long and we all ran up front. I think our superspeedway program with these Supras is really getting good.”
JEFFREY EARNHARDT, No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 26th
How strong was your race car and what happened in the accident with four laps to go?
“We had a really fast Supra all weekend. I didn’t think we were the best in practice, but I knew we knew which direction we needed to be to be fast. Qualifying showed that – it wasn’t as strong as Daytona, but it still was a solid effort by the guys in qualifying there. We had a good car at the stop. We pitted and took two left sides and thought we might have been struggling a little bit there. Then we got shuffled towards the back, which I thought was a good thing because it gave us the opportunity to practice some stuff and really learn how to be able to execute a pass well. It showed there at the end, we had a really fast, strong car and we were playing our cards right. The 22 (Austin Cindric) got into the side of us and it went all to crap from there. Four-wide is doable here at Talladega, but it’s not ever any fun. We just got sucked around. We were a little loose all day long, which is good as long as it’s a manageable loose. Once you get four-wide and everyone is so tight on you, it’s hard to keep it under you. It’s unfortunate. I know we were going to have a good shot to win that thing. We were setting ourselves up good and that’s what it takes at these places is to be there at the end and be ready to execute when the opportunity comes. These guys made it possible for me to do that. Just unfortunate it played out the way it did and we’ll go get them in Charlotte. Just unfortunate.”