The two-mile Michigan International Speedway is one of the few race tracks where crew chiefs and drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series can adapt some strategy to the race. Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Jason Ratcliff and his driver Christopher Bell chose to employ some code words to base strategy for today’s race. Unfortunately, best laid plans of when to pit didn’t work out for the pair on lap 78 when Bell remained on the race track under caution as the leader while drivers from third-place on back came to pit road.
This put Bell, who had started in the second-position, led 36 laps (of 125) and won the second stage of the race – in a position where he would have to pit under the green flag with less than a dozen laps remaining. Bell relinquished his second-position to come to pit road and ultimately finished in the 13th position.
“It was just a miscommunication,” said Bell, following the race. “My definition was a little different than what Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had planned. Ultimately, that was a big hiccup in our day. The 00 (Cole Custer) blew our doors off so we just have to get faster. That’s our biggest thing and for whatever reason on the bigger tracks right now, I don’t have the speed that the 00 has. We just have to keep
Ratliff added to the explanation.
“We talked about, ‘If I tell you this, then it means to pit now.’ Just some code words and it’s really simple actually. It’s first-grade stuff and somehow we mixed it up. He did exactly what his wristband said on it. Unfortunately, it was poor execution on my part in communicating what to put on the wristband.”The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be back in action next week at Iowa Speedway.