Christopher Bell put his name on the map a year ago as one of the young, promising prospects to watch in the NASCAR world.
As a 20-year-old making his debut last June in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Iowa Speedway, Bell finished fifth. He then won his third career truck race, the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, and posted another top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway last fall.
But Bell, who drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports, doesn’t have fond memories of his eighth-place run at TMS. Instead, Bell categorized it as a “not good” eighth-place run compared with his eighth-place run at Charlotte last month.
“When I look back at the Texas fall race, I don’t think I ran very well at all,” Bell said during a recent appearance at the track.
When I look back at the Texas fall race, I don’t think I ran very well at all.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell
“We ended up eighth, but it was not a good eighth. I didn’t feel like we were as strong as what we should have been.”
Bell will be looking to turn in a stronger performance Friday when the truck series returns for the Rattlesnake 400 as part of TMS’ summer race weekend highlighted by IndyCar’s Firestone 600 on Saturday night.
Bell, who turned 21 in December, is considered among the favorites to take the checkered flag given the talent he has already shown in his young racing career. There’s a reason why Kyle Busch signed him to run a full-time truck schedule this year, after all.
Bell made a strong impression in those seven races last year, and is finding his stride in his rookie season. He has finished 4-3-8 in his last three races.
3 straight top-10 runs for Christopher Bell going into Texas
“The last three races we’ve been able to string together a couple good runs and coming back to Texas is one of my favorite tracks,” said Bell, who grew up in Norman, Okla.
“This is as close to home as it gets in the NASCAR schedule. And, as a race car driver, all you can ask for is multiple grooves and you have that here in Texas. It’s just a really fun place to race and it makes it a little bit sweeter being close to home.”
Bell feels that he and his No. 4 Toyota Tundra team have developed a knack for success on the 1.5-mile ovals such as Texas’. Those are the types of tracks, Bell said, that you have to be good at to contend for a championship.
And championships are expected to be won when Busch, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champ, is your boss.
“Kyle Busch Motorsports is obviously one of the most prestigious teams in the truck series and they have some of the best equipment,” Bell said. “So you’re running really nice pieces every week and you know you’re in the best truck every week, so you have all that confidence going in.
You know he can win, so you better win too.
Bell on team owner Kyle Busch
“On the other side of it, you’re driving for Kyle Busch. You know he can win, so you better win too.”
Busch has three career truck victories himself at Texas, and Bell would certainly like to join that list of winners.
And Bell provided some insight in what it’s like driving for Busch, known for his intense and borderline questionable antics on the track.
“It’s cool to be able to have him as a boss and also nice to have him as a mentor. He’s so involved with all of his young drivers,” Bell said. “Any question you ever have you can always ask him and he’s willing to give his advice.
“But there are two sides to Kyle. There’s racetrack Kyle and away-from-racetrack Kyle. Whenever he’s at the racetrack, he’s there to do his job and he’s there to win races. He’s definitely an intimidating guy, but also one of the nicest guys you can ever meet. He’s an awesome person.”
8 p.m. Friday, FS1