NASCAR: Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell Shine at Kansas Thanks to Mid-Season Change

by Jonathan Howard

After Sunday’s NASCAR Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell can look back and thank one change their teams made. Earlier in the season, when both Bell and Wallace were struggling there was a pit crew swap made. Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI work together in certain capacities.

23XI leases crew members from JGR. Which basically means they use the same pool of pit crew members. So, with issues for both Wallace and Bell on the track and in the pit, it was clear what needed to happen. With a swap in the pit just before Atlanta in July, no one knew what might happen.

The week after Atlanta, when the NASCAR Cup Series went to New Hampshire, Bell punched his ticket to the postseason with a win. Meanwhile, Bubba Wallace would go on to finish P3 and have a stretch of top 10 finishes that lasted four races.

Of course, Bubba was the one grabbing the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. He even thanked his pit crew specifically for fixing a loose wheel, without letting it fall off and without causing delay to Wallace’s race. His stretch since the July pit crew change has been the best of his career and now with his second checkered flag of the season, it’s a new era for Wallace and his team, it seems.

These NASCAR drivers have tried to find any advantage they can get in the Next Gen car. It has leveled the playing field, so these strategies are far and few between. At least ones that work, that is. For these two Toyota drivers, it wasn’t just about Bubba winning.

Christopher Bell Advances to Round of 12 in NASCAR Playoffs

At Kansas, Christopher Bell was unable to take the checkered flag and had to settle for P3 in the end. He was capable of winning most of the race. After all, he won the first storage and finished second in the middle stage. He just couldn’t put it together at the end and got a little loose.

With what he was able to do on the track throughout the day, Bell got something possibly more important than a win. Bell is the only driver that has advanced to the Round of 12. No playoffs driver has won in the first two races of the postseason, but Bell is +58 points above the cut line and will be moving on. He currently leads the Playoffs Standings.

With all the success these two teams are enjoying, doesn’t hurt to remember how they got here in the first place. A change in pit crew members gives both of these NASCAR drivers a win on the season. And, it’s a big reason why