Christopher Bell's adventure Down Under ended after he tumbled during the Boxing Day Bash in the United Truck Parts International Midget Series at Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, New Zealand, on Dec. 26.
According to a report in Velocity News, Bell has withdrawn from competition following the insistence of “his NASCAR management team.” The 25-year-old phenom is running for 2020 NASCAR Cup rookie honors with Leavine Family Racing.
LFR team owner Bob Leavine tweeted on Saturday, “Well I didn’t stop him from going.” He later added LFR "did not ask" Bell to come home from New Zealand. A Toyota spokesperson told RacinBoys.com, “Looks like he decided to come home on his own, he wasn’t asked to curtail anything.”
Bell confirmed that assertion in a statement provided to RacinBoys.com.
“After crashing on Boxing Day I decided it was best for me to skip the rest of the New Zealand tour in preparation for the 2020 Chili Bowl and Cup season,” Bell said.
Bell flipped on Lap 8 during the B Main while attempting to qualify for the Boxing Day Bash. Zeb Wise won the race. That’s where the stories diverge.
Brian Theobald, primary sponsor and car owner of the No. 21 United Truck Parts midget, had a different take on Bell’s departure and told velocitynews.co.nz, “He’s been asked to cease racing for the rest of the series and has had to return home and focus on 2020. Christopher is incredibly talented and it’s always a privilege to have someone of his caliber racing down here in New Zealand.
“Naturally, we’re sad to see him go but we’ve got no doubts he’ll be back here to race in years to come. It’s a shame but when you see a crash like that, it’s easy to understand why his team back in the USA would not want him to continue racing.
“I spoke to him last night, like us he’s gutted, mostly for the fans. Fortunately, he’s already looking forward to returning back here at some stage in the future. It all comes down to getting the okay from his management.”
After a four-year absence, Bell returned to Western Springs last year and won the World 50-lap Classic. He finished third in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series standings after an eight-win season.
Next month, Bell will attempt to tie Kevin Swindell’s four-straight Chili Bowl National titles. The Toyota spokesperson didn’t believe Thursday’s incident would affect Bell’s status for Tulsa.