By Matt Courson, Staff Writer
On lap 108, Bell’s No. 20 Camry blew a brake rotor going into Turn 3. Bell’s car slammed into the wall and suffered heavy damage that would be too extensive to repair.
Bell knew he was losing the brakes, so it became a matter of time before they went out.
“The pedal started getting longer and longer. We’ve had really strong brakes all year long and haven’t had any issues, so it’s quite surprising to have the brake issue in a track where they are important, but not as important a some of the others.”
Bell said he is not upset, but more so disappointed.
“Everyone is trying their hardest, and it’s just part of it. I’m disappointed. It is heartbreaking right now. I’m still probably a little shocked, and it hasn’t sunk in yet. You can only change whats ahead of you.”
Bell is excited for the future to build on and learn from these mistakes.
“It’s been a good (year) and I’m proud of the efforts, especially in the Playoffs to make the Final Four. But we’ve left a lot on the table thorugh the regular season and I still don’t think that we performed up to our potential in 2023. So, I’m excited about the future and trying to build on this and become better.”
Bell is just the second driver to not finish a Championship 4 race since the current Playoff format began in 2014, and is the first Championship 4 driver to record a last place finish in the finale. Carl Edwards also crashed in a late race restart during the 2016 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing 34th.
This year marks Bell’s second consecutive appearance in the Championship 4. Last year a 10th place finish at Phoenix resulted in a third place finish in the season standings.