CHRISTOPHER BELL: “That’s Our Whole Goal – Win More Races”
Last season, Christopher Bell put together an impressive rookie season, scoring a victory and 17 top-10s en route to finishing third in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. Now, he’s ready to set the bar even higher this upcoming season.
“We just have to do our job and win more races this year,” he said. “That’s our whole goal – win more races, and yet still put ourselves at Homestead with a chance to win the championship.”
Despite being a championship contender, he notes last year didn’t live up to expectations with only one victory – Gateway Motorsports Park – over the course of the season.
“Obviously, getting to Homestead last year was a good way to salvage what I’d call a B year because we didn’t win the races that I planned on winning,” he said. “I know Toyota was expecting a little more out of me. So the whole goal is to win more races this year. So if we can win more races and still contend for the championship, I’ll be happy.”
Getting ready for the year, Bell has been spending a lot of time on the simulator, preparing as much as he can ahead of the season.
“I’ve been working as hard as I can the past couple years now to be as prepared as I can showing up to the racetrack,” he said. “It works extremely well, but nothing can replace seat time. I’m really thankful that this is my second year so going to the tracks for third, fourth, even fifth time will be really big for me.”
While it may appear everything in place for Bell to have success in 2017, this year also brings change for the youngster, though.
Despite entering this second full year of competition, he will be the veteran at Kyle Busch Motorsports, surrounded by new teammates in Noah Gragson, Myatt Snider, and Harrison Burton. Despite the change in status, he says it doesn’t add to the pressure, noting he already puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform.
“It’ll be cool to see how Noah does,” Bell said. “Obviously, he is very talent and in the two truck races that he ran last year, he was able to be in the top-five in practice, so he’ll be good.
He’ll also have a new crew chief as Jerry Baxter, who worked with Bell last season, has moved over to GMS Racing. Bell will now be partnered with Rudy Fugle, who led William Byron to seven victories last season. Fugle has been a constant at KBM over the years, including some championships on his resume.
“I’m really excited to work with Rudy,” he said. “Obviously his success has been proven time and time again with multiple drivers. I’m excited to get to Daytona and Atlanta and see what it is like working with him. I feel everything is there to produce good finishes and race wins, so I’m excited to work with Rudy a lot.
“I’ve been around him a lot, as I’ve been at Kyle Busch Motorsports the past four years. Been around him in the shop, talked with him, but obviously, the relationship turns a whole different when it goes from friends to a driver-crew chief. Obviously, we’ve been working really hard to create a good driver-crew chief relationship there, and we will spend time on the simulator preparing for Daytona, and Atlanta. I feel we will be as ready as we can be. I can’t wait for Daytona.”
There’s also change in the series, with the addition of the segments and a lot of drivers leaving with new faces joining the fray. While stating last year the competition was fierce, as shown in how hard it was to make the Championship Final 4, he expects the series to be just as competitive this year.
“My good buddy Chase Briscoe just moved to BKR, and obviously he’s no slouch winning the ARCA Championship last year,” he said. “There’s a lot of good talent coming in, and I want to beat them.”
With everything changing around him, it’s always good to have someone to lean on for advice, in which Bell knows he does in the form of his boss, Kyle Busch.
“Kyle is the best boss that you can have,” he said. “Obviously he’s one of the most talented NASCAR guys that we’ve seen. So having him as a boss is really cool because he’s so involved in his truck program, and late model program. But every competition meeting on Monday he is there and questioning everybody, and I feel that is why Kyle Busch Motorsports is as successful as it is because of his involvement. Any of his drivers can get a hold of him and ask for his advice on anything that you can think of, and he’ll be there to answer for you. It’s cool to have a boss as involved as he is.”
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