CONCORD, N.C. – What happened during Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval will be filed away in the memory banks of Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe for future reference.
The two Xfinity Series Playoff drivers had combined to lead 40 of the 67 laps and were battling for second place with 10 to go when they made contact in the chicane in Turn 17. Then, coming into Turn 2, the pair were still battling when apparent contact from Bell sent Briscoe spinning.
RELATED: Official race results
“The 98 (Briscoe) was really fast and I was going to let him go as soon as he got beside me and then whenever we got into the chicane, he didn’t leave me any option besides running me off the race track,” Bell said. “At that point, I was just going to race him back as hard as I could.”
The spin dropped Briscoe back to 20th place, while Bell had to start at the rear as a penalty for what NASCAR ruled was missing the chicane. Briscoe rallied for a top 10 – his 11th top 10 in 12 races. Bell, who already is locked him into the Round of 8 with a win at Richmond last weekend, finished 12th.
“I felt like getting down into the final two corners I obviously outbraked him,” Briscoe said. “I honestly thought he was going to give it to me after I ran him down that far. At that point, as soon as I pulled out, I was committed. There was no way I wasn’t going to do what I did the next corner and it’s so narrow. It funnels anyway. And then I gave him plenty of room down through here and even tried to give him a lot of room so we could race it. I felt like I got tagged in the left rear and turned around.”
The way the contact in Turn 2 went down left Briscoe a bit flummoxed.
“I felt like I got turned down here and that’s what I don’t understand,” Briscoe said. “We’re both racing for the win. I had no reason to move him off the race track or anything.”
Bell, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver who will move up to the Cup ranks with Leavine Family Racing in 2020, indicated he doesn’t expect any carry-over to future races.
“We haven’t ever had any issues before,” Bell said. “He’s a hard racer, I’m a hard racer. If he has a problem with it, he can come ask me my opinion. That’s that.”
The contact took Briscoe out of contention for the win in a race that he scored the Stage 1 win in. He also won the inaugural Xfinity race at the Roval last year and sat on the pole for Saturday’s race.
“I felt like we had the car to beat all day long,” Briscoe said. “We were able to constantly come back through the field. There at the end, I felt like I still could have ran down AJ (Allmendinger, the race winner). I felt like we were really good on the long run and that’s where he struggled.”
The finish puts Briscoe 35 points to the good and in sixth place in the standings heading to the Round of 12 finale at Dover International Speedway in Saturday’s Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The 24-year old finished fifth at the Monster Mile in the spring.
“As long as we get a couple stage points and run inside the top 10 we should be OK,” Briscoe said. “Today, we definitely wanted to get the win but the big picture was trying to get points and we were able to do that.”