Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud at Charlotte: Keep Showing That Personality, Christopher Bell

What Happened?

NASCAR’s longest night turned into its shortest race of the season as Christopher Bell took the trophy, winning the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600.

Bell had to hold of a charging Brad Keselowski on the track before the final caution flew. William Byron made his way to third, with Tyler Reddick and Denny Hamlin finishing out the top five.

See also
Christopher Bell Wins Rain Shortened Coca-Cola 600

What Really Happened?

In the disappointment and discussion of the premature ending of what should have been a 600-mile event, one small bright shone as CBell smiled in victory lane.

Another one of those quiet, nice guys, Bell is not one to steal the spotlight for himself. But as he continues to grow, he has an opportunity to rival Kyle Larson both on and off the track.

When the Netflix documentary Full Speed released, Bell showed a glimpse of his competitive side. He knows how good he is, he knows that he gets left out of the conversation a lot, and he uses that to his advantage.

Bell already has the capability to take over a race — we’ve seen it before. But to step up his game and consistently be the best of the Joe Gibbs Racing bunch, he has to show a little more of his personality, just like he did after the racing ended.

In his victory lane interview, Bell beamed and had a moment of relatability, joking that he was half-asleep on his couch when he heard the news, much like most of the viewers at home.

In his media availability, he also had some more fascinating lines.

This goes along with what we’ve seen from Bell throughout the year, like when he joked with FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass about getting picked to do well.

Bell has the personality to become another fan favorite if he lets it come through. While he’s doing better about that on the NASCAR schedule, there’s another avenue he could use to further connect with fans and become a superstar: getting back into his dirt roots.

This same path is what has connected Larson with fans across the country. It’s made Larson a superstar. You could even argue Larson’s incessant racing made him a better driver and helped him win his championship. 

The more personable Bell seems, the more connected he can get with fans. Who knows? Maybe a charming personality would be just enough to convince Coach Gibbs to let his driver race around again.

Who Stood Out?

Sure, Reddick finished in the top five on another mile and a half, big shocker. Sarcasm aside, Reddick did so in half the scheduled time after serving a pass-through penalty to start the race. He even went a lap down during the first stage, but once he got back to the lead lap, he rocketed to the front. While he never truly got to showcase his strengths, his speedy ascension to the front stood out.

A top-15 finish for the No. 5 normally wouldn’t seem like an accomplishment to write home about. But when you realize Justin Allgaier drove the car to that point, it certainly stands out. Allgaier spent most of the first stage figuring out the car, getting lapped and driving back to the lead lap. After he got situated, he really showed the car’s capabilities, getting up to 13th before the rain arrived.

Who Fell Flat?

The biggest disappointment of the day without a doubt was Larson. Sure, he never turned a lap in the Coca-Cola 600 … but isn’t that kind of the point of doing the double? Larson showed speed in the Indianapolis 500, but a disappointing speeding penalty took him out of contention. 

At that point, Larson already committed to earning no points in the Cup event, and the chance at completing all 1,100 miles had passed. While it wasn’t his fault, the ultimate end of the race before he could jump in the car still felt like a major disappointment.

Defending race winner Ryan Blaney had high expectations after Ford’s resurgence in the past few weeks. In that time, lady luck has not been kind to Blaney, and she again turned her face on the No. 12 team. A pit penalty/loose wheel combo led to Blaney becoming the second DNF of the race, really before the sun fully set. 

Another Ford who fell flat stalled out in the middle of the pack. Chris Buescher’s crash in practice set the No. 17 team behind from the jump. Buescher looked fast early, and his RFK Racing teammate also drove through the field. But after driving into the top 20, Buescher really stayed there for the remainder of the shortened event.

Better Than Last Time?

The racing itself had some decent moments, like Byron making a true pass in the grass on Reddick and Ty Gibbs

And if you really paid attention, you would have seen Reddick opt for the turf just a few laps before Byron’s big move.

With a little over half of the event completed, however, fans surely missed out on a fantastic build to another great finish, like we’ve seen the past two years. Compared to these last two Charlotte races, this race definitely was not better than last time.

Paint Scheme of the Race

The Coca-Cola 600 rivals Throwback Weekend every year, with some incredible patriotic paint schemes. This year, both events had nearly the same amount of participation. Just like Darlington, a couple of Chevrolets had the best Memorial Day looks.

The Zane Smith machine combined grey camouflage with the look of an F-22 Raptor. Any time a team takes a plane design and works it on the race car, it looks cool. This stealthy scheme flew under the radar throughout the evening.

In the end, Alex Bowman’s patriotic Ally scheme takes the cake as scheme of the race. The scheme took his weekly purple design and turned it blue, throwing in scrapes of red and white stripes throughout the look.

What’s Next?

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway for the third consecutive season. The Enjoy Illinois 300 is scheduled for Sunday, June 2 at 3:30 p.m. on FS1.

About the author

calebbarnes924

I began sports writing in 2023 with The Liberty Champion, where I officially covered my first NASCAR race at Richmond in the spring. While there, I met some of the guys from Frontstretch, and I joined the video editing team after I graduated from Liberty University with degrees in Strategic Communications and Sports Journalism. I currently work full-time as a Multi-Media Journalist with LEX 18 News in Lexington, Kentucky and contribute to Frontstretch with writing and video editing. I'm also behind-the-scenes or on camera for the Happy Hour Podcast, live every Tuesday night at 7:30!

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

9 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bill B

Bah-humbug. Nothing went right on the greatest day of racing.

janice

Follow the leader F1, two rain delayed races….and seeing princess sparkling pony topped off o day coverage.

Carl D.

You forget… Princess Sparkle Pony is a Gin-U-Wine Nascar All-Star. No less than the fans said so. 😉

Last edited 25 days ago by Carl D.
Carl D.

I watched all three races at home, where my AC unit died last Friday.  I live in “Famously Hot” SC, and the humidity is so bad you can wring water out of thin air.  And the races sucked and the rain delays just made my Sunday mostly miserable.  At least the Gibblet didn’t win.  He was strong, though.

New AC unit to be installed this week.

Bill W.

Larson said he hoped Indy would rain out and run monday,Karma is a bitch.

Christian Andrews

I know right? I hate MOTHER FUCKING NATURE!!!!!!!!!!!

Echo

Don’t blame nature, try Ben Kennedy. He should be fired, oh wait, his mother owns Nascar.

DoninAjax

The Rain Gods haven’t cared for the NA$CAR Brain Trust brilliant ideas since 2004!

Carl D.

Christopher Bell is the only likable driver at JGR, so I’m okay with him winning. Besides, he was questionably the class of the field.

Share via