Christopher Bell was dominating the U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
He had led 234 of the laps in the race with five laps to go, when he was passed by Chase Briscoe’s No. 98 car that was prepped with tires 50 laps fresher than Bell’s.
“I’m just disappointed,” Bell said. “There’s nothing we could have done different to win the race. Very happy with how our Rheem Supra ran today. It was obviously the class of the field. I’m very proud to be able to be the guy that gets to drive that thing. It’s a rocket ship.”
Christopher Bell disappointed with Tire Limits after Iowa Upset
It was, simply put, a gamble that paid off for Briscoe.
However, when diving deeper into it, the reason that the gamble was possible in the first place was because of NASCAR’s rule that limits the number of tires a team uses throughout a race.
Tires were the name of the game on Saturday, and it showed with Briscoe winning.
Justin Haley said after the race that a car was 1.5 seconds faster than cars with old tires. They flew.
“Obviously, it was a big deal,” Bell said. “whenever they had the yellow’s I could kind of restart and take off okay, but as the tires got hot, having fresher ones was the bigger advantage.”
A caution came out with 100 laps to go, causing the situation to present itself.
If the race remained green the rest of the way and a team didn’t want to take a pit stop under green that could set them two laps down at times, they’d have to pit there.
“We didn’t have tires,” Bell said. “So, our strategy was spelled out for us. We took our last set with 100 to go. That was the only way we were going to make it on fuel, to pit there.”
A group of four cars stayed out, hoping a caution would come out late in the race allowing them to pit during pace laps and come out with fresher tires than the rest of the field.
It worked, and a caution came out on lap 205.
“They did the opposite of us, because they weren’t capable of beating us heads up, and it paid off for them,” Bell said.
Although, Bell isn’t a fan of limiting the use of tires, understandably so.
He spelled it out, and even had strong words to say about Briscoe.
“It sucks for a reason like that because it spells the race out for guys. For example, we have to pit [and] take our tires. All of the competitive cars decided to take their tires. Then a guy that’s not going to beat us heads up decides to gamble and not take tires there and if it goes green the rest of the way, he’s a lap down and a non-factor.”
It stunk for Bell on Saturday, but helped Briscoe win his second career Xfinity Series race…
And I don’t think NASCAR is changing that rule any time soon.