Bristol defeat is ‘terribly disappointing’ for Bell.

That’s not surprising given how well he and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team did early in the playoffs but weren’t able to capitalize on it with a win.

Bell, 27, was leading Saturday night’s race at Bristol, Tennessee Motor Speedway when he had a flat rear right tire and marked the wall on lap 436 of 500.

He managed to work his way up to fourth place, giving him a first-lap finish in fifth, third and fourth – the best performance of the 16 playoff drivers.

However, with the points being reset to start Lap 2 and Bell having contributed nothing to his overall win, he falls from the leader to seventh place among the 12 remaining riders. He will reach Texas with 13 playoff points, 27 behind leader Chase Elliott.

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“It’s terribly disappointing. That’s two weeks in a row where we had speed and the car under me to win the race and didn’t make it,” said Bell. “Very proud of this No 20 group. They keep bringing Camrys out onto the track which are amazing.

“It makes me really excited to see where we’re going, especially Texas – it’s one of my best circuits. I am proud of everyone in this group. Hopefully we can take this momentum with us.”

Round two will be filled with tough challenges with the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval into Texas making next weekend’s race even more important.

Luckily for Bell, he was strong at intermediate distances and in three career starts he finished 21st, third and third.

“Looking forward to the next seven races, I would say Texas is arguably the most important race outside of Phoenix (the championship race),” Bell said. “Talladega, we all know what that’s like – there will be some lucky guys and some unlucky guys.

“Texas is sort of the only place where you can steer your destiny into the next round, and the winner is going to feel really good about a playoff car.”

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