NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell are usually friends off the race track; This week, they aren’t
On Sunday, NASCAR visited Watkins Glen International. The New York road course saw a three car battle for the win in the closing laps of the event.
Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell are both avid dirt racers. Not only do they race on Sunday’s but they regularly find themselves wheel to wheel on the bullring dirt tracks across the country.
On lap 55 of 90 at The Glen, Bell was all over the bumper of Martin Truex Jr and looking for the lead. After several laps, Larson caught both of them, making it a three-way battle.
Larson trailed Bell by a half car length down the front stretch. He dove to the inside in turn one.
Bell pinched him, likely not knowing he was even there. As they made contact, Bell went for a spin, no caution.
Larson rallied to the bumper of Truex. However, the pass for the lead was made during a pit stop.
Larson drove to victory lane.
After the race
Christopher Bell stated directly after the race, “I haven’t seen it so I don’t know if I crowded him at all, but he shouldn’t have been in there in the first place. He didn’t really have a run coming off of seven. We were all packed up.”
Larson apologized from victory lane.
“Big apology to Christopher Bell. I was inside but I wasn’t inside enough,” Larson said from the front stretch.
“I needed to have my nose a few feet further ahead. The angle, just caught there in the middle and I ended up turning him. I hate that. I’ve raced him, a lot. He’s probably the one guy that I race with the most.”
Larson concluded from the track, “So, I hate to turn him like that.”
Mid-week comments: Larson puts some fault on Bell
“Initially I thought I was completely at the wrong,” Larson told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday.
“But honestly, I think more after watching the replay, I think we both had a factor in what happened. I got in there, I didn’t dive-bomb like he said I did. I was a half-a-car-length back on him going down the frontstretch, looked to his inside the whole braking zone and was actually further forward than I actually really was.
Larson added, “I locked the brakes up late in the braking zone when I realized he was going to turn in the corner, and really turned in like I wasn’t there.
“I’m not sure if his spotter just didn’t tell him or what happened there but, either way, I still feel bad about it. I don’t ever want to spin anybody out, especially Christopher Bell. I have a lot of respect for him on the race track and we’ve had amazing races together.”
“Obviously, he’s upset, and I get it. But after watching more of the replays, I don’t think I was fully at the wrong.”
They aren’t speaking
Drivers will regularly communicate following on-track contact. It’s to keep things from bubbling and becoming bigger issues.
“I reached out and tried, but I guess he’s not willing to talk to me, which is kind of whatever,” Larson said.
“I think any adult in the field would at least have a conversation with you, but he doesn’t care to. So, we’ll move on from it and if he wants to get me back, that’s fine. Whatever.”
Larson concluded, “I’m not going to worry about it. If it makes him sleep better at night to ignore me and want to crash me or whatever, so be it.”
This isn’t the first time the two drivers have tangled on the track. Most recently, Bell slide Larson on the Bristol Dirt Track during the NASCAR Cup Series race.
In that case, Larson had charged from the tail of the field, into the top five. During the slide, Bell tagged the wall and Larson was collected. Larson pushed on Bell’s bumper as both mangled car limped to the pit lane.