Christopher Bell believes people wrote him off early on as a championship contender in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
And it’s hard to argue after he opened the season by finishing 16th, 26th and 19th in the first three races. But Bell has bounced back in a big way.
Bell has top-10 runs in 15 of the last 17 races, including a win at Gateway Motorsports Park in June, and is squarely in the hunt for the championship going into Friday night’s Striping Technology 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Bell, 21, is second in the standings and in position to clinch one of four spots for the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month.
“We started off rocky and rough, but now we’re gaining,” Bell said. “We’re getting better as a team and I’m getting better as a driver limiting my mistakes. Here we are with three races to go sitting second in points. I’d say people classify us as a dark horse, but my team does not.”
Here we are with three races to go sitting second in points. I’d say people classify us as a dark horse, but my team does not.
Truck driver Christopher Bell
Bell shouldn’t feel like a dark horse. He drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports, which produced last year’s truck champ (Erik Jones). And, as stated, Bell is in great shape to earn his way into the championship race.
But Bell has not had much success in his two truck starts at Texas. He finished eighth in this race last fall, and 32nd in the summer race due to an engine failure.
TMS, though, is essentially Bell’s home track. He’s a Norman, Okla., native and this is the closest track on the schedule. Does that put added pressure on the 21-year-old?
“Additional pressure? I’d say no,” Bell said. “Desire to perform is up a little bit more because coming here to Texas is my home track. I have some family here and it’s one of my favorite tracks. I wouldn’t say more pressure, I’d say more desire to perform.”
Bell will have plenty of competition, especially with the truck series going to the playoff format for the championship this season.
A driver such as Ben Kennedy, who is sixth in points, will be going all-out for a win to keep his championship dreams alive.
“We’ve got to perform, there’s no question about it if we want to make it to Homestead,” Kennedy said. “Kind of down, but not out after last weekend [at Martinsville]. Hopefully we get a win.”
▪ Thursday’s truck practice was pushed back to Friday because of rain. It will be from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
▪ John Wes Townley will miss Friday’s truck race because of a left ankle injury not related to racing. Cody Coughlin will replace him.