Christopher Bell Sets Kyle Larson Narrative Straight

Christopher Bell didn’t believe the incident with Kyle Larson at Watkins Glen warranted the extra media attention or a back-and-forth between the two drivers, privately or in public, but the narrative has spiraled in the days since.

Larson initially apologized for the move he made on Bell early in the final stage on Sunday — one that saw Bell spin in Turn 1 as they were racing behind leader Martin Truex Jr. Larson went on to win the race, while Bell rallied to finish seventh.

Larson sends it deep!

Bell doesn’t give up space!

Contact and the No. 20 gets spun! pic.twitter.com/S0Sbm1stMH

When asked about the incident during a Monday afternoon interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Larson reversed course and suggested that it wasn’t as egregious as a mistake as he originally thought.

“But honestly, I think more after watching the replay, I think we both had a factor in what happened,” Larson said.

Larson believed he was much further to the inside of Bell than he realized in the moment and suggested that Bell turned into him. Larson also said he had ‘reached out’ to Bell, but didn’t get a response, and also suggested disappointment that Bell wouldn’t seemingly have the conversation.

“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.”

ICYMI: @KyleLarsonRacin joined @DGodfatherMoody on #SXMSpeedway and shared his perspective on the incident between him and @CBellRacing.#NASCAR | @TeamHendrick | @WGI pic.twitter.com/4HIhLZyog6

Bell says there wasn’t a phone call the night after the race — not that it even needed to be a conversation before Larson made it a public talking point over the air.

“In my opinion, if Larson really wanted to talk to me, he would have called me to talk,” Bell said on Saturday following a Cup Series practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. “I received a text message at midnight that said ‘sorry, hate I spun you.’

“I’ve sent out apology texts and calls in my day, and if I really want to talk to you about it, I called the person and handled it that way, if I couldn’t talk to them in person.”

Bell said some of the frustration stems from the perception that Larson ignored a phone call immediately after the race, which isn’t true.

“It’s very frustrating to hear Larson has called me and I’m not answering the phone when that is so far from the truth,” Bell said. “If he really wants to talk about it, I’ll be glad to talk about it.”

Bell says he responded to that text with a phone call, but Larson didn’t respond until later, when Bell himself had other obligations.

“I was really moved on at that point,” Bell said. “The on-track incident – I wasn’t happy about it – but it was fine, and then whenever he went on cried to the media about me not texting him back from the text message I got at midnight, I called him to discuss that part of it and he didn’t answer my call and he called me back and I had some obligations, and I didn’t pick up either.

“On-track incident, whatever. Him crying to the media that I didn’t reply to his sorry text message, like, come on.”

Larson said on Saturday at Indianapolis that he didn’t think they needed to talk and that he is over what happened, and Bell will be in time, too. He said he wasn’t surprised that Bell didn’t respond because ‘he’s just Bell.’

Regarding the incident, Bell says he has reviewed the data from both cars and that it paints Larson as responsible for the incident.

“I went back and looked at in on SMT, which is real data, and I was a car length and a half above the normal bottom line,” Bell said. “That was compared to my normal bottom line and his normal bottom line, so that’s what I’ve got to say.”

Bell and Larson go back well over a decade. They have raced each other for years in Midgets and Sprint Cars before taking their battles to the highest levels of NASCAR. There’s always been a competitive rivalry between them.

Bell says there’s no built up tension over their battles at the Chili Bowl or in NASCAR, and he expects their rivalry to continue in the same fashion it has over the past decade.

“He’s really talented. He’s going to be around for a while, and I hope that I’m around for a while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing,” Bell said. “I’ve got really good cars. He’s got really good cars at Hendrick. I think, hopefully, it’s going to be around for a while.”

The point of contention between them isn’t what happened on the track, but everything that happened in public over the past week.

“We’ve all got into on-track incidents, but never have I ever sent a text message at midnight and complained that the guy didn’t message me back,” Bell said. “Like first off, I will always try to make an effort to talk to them face to face, or if I can’t talk to them face to face, call them and more than likely leave a voicemail.

“If I really want to talk about it and I feel like it needs to be discussed, I will tell them to call me back, or whatever. I didn’t really think that needed to be discussed or talked about. He did send me a text message, albeit at midnight, and I was moved on from the on-track incident and then him running his mouth is a little uncalled for, but it is what it is.”


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