Joe Gibbs Racing Warns Fans in Disturbing Video of Championship 4 Race Incident That Cost Christopher Bell Chance at Victory and Almost Cost Pit Crew Member a Finger
Christopher Bell made a statement in 2022. He won multiple times in a season for the first time in his young Cup Series career. However, it wasn’t necessarily the number of wins that got everyone’s attention but how he did it, producing a pair of improbable walk-off wins, with each dramatically propelling him to the next round of the playoffs.
Going into Phoenix and the Championship 4 race, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver had as much momentum as any other driver, just days removed from his latest surprise win at Martinsville. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for the 27-year-old as a disastrous late pit stop took away any hopes of victory, but more disturbingly, nearly took away a finger from one of his team’s pit crew members. This week the organization readily shared the graphic video of the incident (including injury photos) on social media for all to see.
Christopher Bell suffers costly slow pit stop late in Phoenix
Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, and Chase Elliott were no match for Joey Logano early on in the race at Phoenix. The No. 22 car dominated Stage 1 from start to finish and finished well ahead of the contenders in the race’s second stage.
Bell narrowed the gap following a slow pit stop by the Team Penske car to start the third stage, and even more on an adventurous green-flag pit stop call by crew chief Adam Stevens. However, on the race’s final caution, any hopes of the No. 20 winning a championship were dashed during a pit stop that lasted just shy of 20 seconds.
Team radio revealed that the jackman’s finger got stuck in between the nut and the spindle. That prolonged stop dropped Bell back to 16th position. He worked his way through the field in the remaining laps and finished 10th.
Disturbing video shows finger getting stuck in wheel
Joe Gibbs Racing shared a video of the ugly incident on Twitter this week from the helmet-cam view of jackman Caleb Dirks, initially warning fans of its graphic nature. The almost 40-second video first shows Dirks running around the front of the car, jacking up the driver’s side before grabbing the wheel and placing it on the rear-left side.
At that point, it’s a moment of confusion as the tire changer backs off the wheel with the gun in hand, thinking that the tire change is complete, but Dirks’ finger remains lodged under the wheel. The tire changer hits the wheel again in an attempt to get the finger lose, but it doesn’t work. A third time with the gun and the finger gets loose. Dirks immediately turns around and falls to the ground before realizing he hasn’t lowered the jack. He turns, lowers the jack, and Bell speeds away.
Moments later, the video shows what happens to a hot dog wiener that’s put through that same situation. The dog loses with a pair of nasty gashes. The video concludes by showing a photo of Dirks’ injuries, including bruising and cuts to his middle and index fingers.
“It’s a miracle that Caleb didn’t sustain major injuries (unlike the hot dog in our illustration),” the tweet said.
Bell is the bellwether for JGR in 2023
Coming into the 2022 Cup Series season, no one would have suggested Christopher Bell would be the top car from JGR at the end of the year. He was and won as many races as the three other drivers in the organization combined.
Heading into the 2023 season, with Ty Gibbs replacing Kyle Busch, who moved on to Richard Childress Racing, Bell will now be considered the top car for the team. And based on his overall performance, including those memorable wins in the playoffs, he will likely be viewed as one of the best cars in the entire Cup field.
And don’t be surprised if a year from now, we’re talking about Bell’s recent win or near-miss at another championship. It could all come down to a single pit stop.