HAMPTON, Ga. – Both Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell already have one common thread, in that each can likely clinch a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
They have at least one other common thread – that both will head into Sunday’s race with new crew members following this week’s swap among the pit crews of both teams.
“Both of us have had our struggles, for sure,” Bell said. “And it’s cost both of us some potential good finishes.”
Houston Stamper and Joe Crossen will move from Bell’s No. 20 to the No. 23 of Wallace, where they’ll assume the roles of front tire changer and tire carrier. On Bell’s car, meanwhile, Jackson Gibbs and Nick McBeath will assume their roles of front tire changer and tire carrier, with AJ Rosini coming aboard as rear tire changer.
Both pit crews have been maligned throughout the season, with the pit-road stumbles of the No. 23 being tossed into the spotlight following Wallace’s much-publicized outburst directed toward his team last month at Nashville Superspeedway.
“We’re trying to improve on all aspects of our race team,” Wallace said of the changes. “That’s out of my control. We’re all trying to push the needle to be better, and if this is a step in that direction, then I am all for it.”
But, as Bell notes, issues on pit road have not been limited to the No. 23 of Wallace.
“We have had pit crew issues on the 20, as well,” he said. “It hasn’t been all fun and games for us on the 20 group, as well. I think both of us, on the [Nos.] 20 and 23, are looking for improvements. We’ve been saying that we’re looking for improvements. It’s a step to hopefully improve both teams and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Both drivers said on Saturday that they were present at this week’s pit-crew practice for both teams.
“We have those interactions, that’s been a positive,” Wallace said.
Mid-season crew swaps are nothing new for Bell, who recalled a pit crew change while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“It’s so tough. I enjoy working with everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing through the pit crew stuff,” Bell said. “I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus, but it hasn’t been working, what we had. So I encourage anything to better our position.”
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