Bell Now Turns Focus to Truck Series

NASCAR

"Last season was OK, but it wasn’t what we were aiming for just because we didn’t win enough races. One was not enough."

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Audio: Podtrax | See Also: Bell Wins Chili Bowl

Fresh off what he calls the biggest win of his career, Chili Bowl Midget Nationals champion Christopher Bell is now focusing his efforts on winning a NASCAR Truck Series championship.

Heading into his sophomore season driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Bell has one goal.

"Win races," he said. "Last season was OK, but it wasn’t what we were aiming for just because we didn’t win enough races. One was not enough."

That lone win came in June at Gateway Motorsports Park, which locked him into the inaugural Truck Series Chase.

With top 10s in six of the seven post-season races, Bell turned his consistency into opportunity - which resulted in the chance to race for a championship in his rookie season. He joined veterans Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters and eventual champion Johnny Sauter in The Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"Going to Miami with a chance to win a championship in my first year was valuable experience," said Bell, who wound up third in the standings. "The biggest thing I struggled with was learning to run longer races. That's something we don’t get to do on dirt."

For most of Bell’s career, the word "struggle" has been foreign to him. He’s won races in every type of car he’s been in. When bursting onto the national scene in 2013 driving for Keith Kunz Motorsports in USAC Midget competition, Bell won the USAC National Midget Series dirt championship in his first year.

But the transition to pavement racing was much more of a learning curve.

"It finally clicked halfway through last year that I don’t have to be the fastest truck out there by Lap 20 or 30," Bell said. "I need to be the fastest by Lap 120 or 130 and that’s why we made a run in the Chase. My expectation coming to NASCAR was to win races. When you drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports, it’s hard not to think that way."

During the 2015 season, Bell was given the opportunity through Toyota’s driver development program to test and race a truck for KBM in seven events, where he posted three top 10s and notched his first career win in a NASCAR national series, on the dirt at Eldora Speedway.

Bell says he’s enjoyed learning from team owner Kyle Busch.

"Not only do you have the best equipment, you have one of the greatest mentors in the sport," Bell said. "You know as a driver you have a great advantage with him in your corner."

As for 2017, Bell has already notched a Chili Bowl Midget Nationals win that had eluded him for five years. Growing up in Norman, Okla., just one hour from Tulsa, Bell says winning the Chili Bowl is a dream come true.

"Growing up in Oklahoma, this was my Daytona 500 this ... my Knoxville Nationals," he said. "To know you’ve beaten 300 other drivers who are chasing the same dream is a great feeling."

With his off-season schedule finished, Bell now looks to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway in February as the start of what could be a banner year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

"We were right there last year," he said. "I just need that confidence to burst through and win more races."

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