A significant milestone is in the making for Christopher Bell as the NASCAR Cup Series enters its upcoming doubleheader feature at Michigan International Speedway. By the time the Cup Series completes its two races at Michigan on back-to-back dates, Bell will achieve 150 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series (Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series).
A native from Norman, Oklahoma, who started his racing career on dirt and won the 2013 USAC National Midget Series title, Bell made his debut within NASCAR’s three major division series at Iowa Speedway in June 2015, driving the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Finishing in fifth place in his Truck debut, Bell returned for the upcoming races at Kentucky Speedway and at Eldora Speedway in KBM’s No. 54 Toyota Tundra. After finishing 17th at Kentucky, Bell achieved his first NASCAR Truck career win at Eldora after leading a race-high 106 of 154 laps and prevailing over a late battle with Bobby Pierce. He made four more Truck starts for the remainder of the 2015 season, notching one top-10 result at Texas Motor Speedway in November.
The following season, Bell was promoted as driver of the No. 4 JBL Toyota Tundra for KBM led by Jerry Baxter for the 2016 Truck Series season. In his first race in the No. 4 truck at Daytona International Speedway in February, Bell was involved in two separate incidents. He rallied from his incidents and was in position of recording a strong result until he was involved in a frightening accident on the final lap, where he barrel rolled nearly a dozen times past the start/finish line before coming to rest on all four wheels. He survived the incident and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The following race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bell was leading in the closing laps until he blew a right-front tire and smacked the outside wall in Turn 4 at full speed. Despite the accident, Bell emerged uninjured. It took until June, nine races into the season, for Bell to achieve his second Truck Series career win, first on a paved track, at Gateway. In addition to winning at Gateway, Bell racked up nine top-five results, 17 top-10 results, 197 laps led and an average result of 9.5. He qualified for the postseason and made it all the way to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he settled in third place in the final standings.
In 2017, Bell remained with KBM but was paired with Ryan “Rudy” Fugle. Following an eighth-place finish at Daytona, Bell recorded his first victory of the season at Atlanta. Through 22 of 23 Truck races, Bell achieved five victories, five poles, 14 top-five results and 20 top-10 results. The results allowed Bell to make the postseason and all the way to the Championship Round at Homestead. At Homestead, Bell finished in the runner-up spot and clinched his first NASCAR Truck Series championship over Johnny Sauter, Austin Cindric and Matt Crafton. In addition to recording his first NASCAR title, he also recorded the second championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Throughout the 2017 season, Bell also made his eight NASCAR Xfinity Series career starts between the No. 18 and No. 20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. During the eight races, he recorded his first Xfinity career win at Kansas Speedway in October following a late dust-up with teammate Erik Jones. He also achieved three top-five results and five top-10 results.
The following season, Bell graduated to a full-time driving role in the Xfinity Series and in the No. 20 Rheem/GameStop Toyota for JGR led by crew chief Jason Ratcliff. Following the first seven races of the season, Bell recorded his first win of the season at Richmond in April following a late battle with Noah Gragson. In July, Bell made history as he notched three consecutive Xfinity wins at Kentucky Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and at Iowa Speedway. Thus, he became the first Xfinity competitor to win three consecutive races in a season since Dale Earnhardt Jr. made the last accomplishment in 1999. Qualifying for the Playoffs on the strength of his victories and consistent runs throughout the regular season, Bell achieved wins at Richmond Raceway, Dover International Speedway and at Phoenix Raceway to make the Championship Round at Homestead with an opportunity of winning his first Xfinity championship. For the finale, however, Bell suffered a flat right-rear tire in the final laps and finished 11th, thus finishing in fourth place in the final standings and missing the Rookie-of-the-Year title to the eventual champion Tyler Reddick. Nonetheless, Bell concluded the season on a positive note with seven wins, five poles, 18 top-five results, 20 top-10 results, 759 laps led and an average result of 11.1.
Bell remained in the Xfinity Series with JGR for the 2019 season. At Auto Club Speedway in March, Bell reached 100 starts between the Xfinity and Truck Series. Throughout the season, Bell was dominant as he earned victories at Atlanta, Bristol, Dover, Iowa, New Hampshire, Road America, Richmond and Texas, all while making the Playoffs and earning a spot for the Championship Round at Homestead. Though he came into the finale with momentum, he finished fifth at Homestead and concluded the season in third place in the final standings. Despite the result of not achieving his first Xfinity title, Bell recorded career-high stats that included eight wins, six poles, 20 top-five results, 21 top-10 results, 2,005 laps led and an average result of 9.1.
This season started off on a fresh note for Bell, who graduated to the NASCAR Cup Series to drive the No. 95 Toyota Camry for Leavine Family Racing led by Ratcliff. Through last weekend’s Cup race at New Hampshire, the first 20 races of his Cup career, Bell has achieved one top-five result, five top-10 results, four laps led and an average result of 20.4. He is currently ranked in 23rd in the regular-season standings and is 129 points below the top-16 cutline with six regular-season races remaining until the 2020 Cup Playoffs field is determined.
All told, Bell has recorded 23 wins, 18 poles, 68 top-five results, 92 top-10 results and over 4,100 laps led in his previous 148 starts between NASCAR’s three major division series.
Catch Bell’s milestone start at Michigan on August 9, which will occur at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.