Put Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell in the camp of competitors who favor the new lower-downforce competition package NASCAR has introduced for Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Though Bell’s No. 20 Toyota was 24th fastest in Friday’s 50-minute practice session, he was enthusiastic about the way his Camry performed in traffic.
“I don’t know if I’m biased towards it because I really like it, but I made passes in practice that I know that I absolutely wouldn’t have with the old package,” Bell said. “I don’t know. I’m happy. I hope the other drivers feel the same way…
“I felt like I could pass a little easier and I felt like I could maintain my position easier when I was following guys, but we will know more on Sunday.”
Bell, who felt his car lacked short-run speed, was 0.485 seconds off the pace of Kyle Larson, who topped the speed chart at 131.258 mph (27.427 seconds).
However, the No. 20 team made solid adjustments and had a stronger showing in Saturday’s multi-round qualifying session. Bell posted a final-round time of 27.827 seconds and will roll off fifth in the premier series race, the second-fastest Toyota behind teammate Denny Hamlin.
MORE: Full qualifying recap
Contributing: Staff Report