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Christopher Bell, Erik Jones recover from one lap down to finish top 10 at COTA

Christopher Bell, No. 20 (left), races through the frontstretch during practice for the Daytona 500 (Photo: Dominic Aragon/TRE). Erik Jones, No. 43 (right), races through turns three and four during the March 20 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo: Feliz Vigil/TRE).

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Christopher Bell and Erik Jones recovered to finish in the top 10 after being the only drivers to receive a free pass Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

Christopher Bell finished third in his No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry after pitting and losing a lap due to a steering issue. Bell lost a lap during a Lap 35 debris caution and received the free pass during a Lap 42 caution.

Bell pitted to get fresher tires before a caution came out on Lap 55 for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. stalling on the backstretch. Bell restarted eighth and survived an overtime restart to finish third with no power steering.

“It was a hard-fought day. Losing power steering wasn’t ideal,” Bell said to the team. “I picked up an issue early on in the race and I knew something wasn’t right, and eventually lost power steering a couple of laps later. This 20 group did amazing getting us back out there.”

Photo by Dominic Aragon/TRE

Erik Jones finished ninth in his No. 43 FocusFactor Chevrolet Camaro – six places behind Bell. After starting in the rear Jones fell a lap down after stalling on the backstretch on Lap 42 – which coincidentally brought out the caution that led to Bell receiving a free pass.

During a Lap 46 caution for Bubba Wallace losing a left-rear wheel, Jones received the free pass and – in the next 21 laps – picked through 27 cars to be 11th for the Lap 67 overtime restart.

Jones passed Austin Dillon and avoided A.J. Allmendinger, who spun during overtime, to nab a ninth-place finish in overtime.

Photo by Feliz Vigil/TRE

Jones is 17th in the NASCAR Cup Series points – seven points out of a playoffs spot – with one top-5 finish and two top-10 finishes after six races in 2022.

Christopher Bell is 23rd in points – 47 points out of a playoffs spot and playoffs-eligible by 15 points – also with one top-5 finish and two top-10 finishes.

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