Christopher Bell scored his first top 10 in the NASCAR Cup Series in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bell followed up an 11th-place finish this past Wednesday at Darlington Raceway with a ninth-place finish in NASCAR’s longest race of the season. His finish was moved up one spot after second-place finisher Jimmie Johnson was disqualified.

“I think we are headed in the right direction,” Bell said. “We have to obviously keep making gains — getting a little bit faster, me doing a better job. We‘re gaining on it. We are creeping up on it. I think we snuck a little bit of a better finish out than what we probably deserved, but we will take it after the first couple weeks.”

Sunday marked Bell’s seventh series start and first in the Coca-Cola 600.

“That was a long one,” Bell said. “I‘m glad I got to experience the full Coke 600, because now all of the rest of them are going to be shorter than that.”

Early in the race, Bell nearly spun after contact from Ryan Blaney while running 13th. He was able to save it and continue on.

“The 12 car was probably a little faster than me at that point,” Bell said. “I guess he just ran in the back of me, and thankfully I was able to get it back under control and we didn‘t go a lap down. Luckily it worked out to where we were able to stay on the lead lap.”