Toyota Racing – Christopher Bell
NASCAR Cup Series Quotes
DOVER, Del. (May 12, 2021) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell was made available to media via videoconference prior to the Dover race earlier today:
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 STANLEY Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is it like competing on a team where everyone will be in victory lane this season?
“That’s something that I was definitely prepared for going into the 2021 season – I should say that I was prepared for having an all-star cast of teammates. You know that Denny (Hamlin), Martin (Truex Jr.) and Kyle (Busch) are all going to be racing for the wins and racing for championships. It’s up to you, you know you’ve got the equipment and all the pieces of the puzzle to do it. You have to go out there and get it done. It definitely made me happy whenever I was able to get the first win of the season for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) because I knew that those guys weren’t going to be far behind me.”
What is it like being the most inexperienced driver in the group?
“I definitely don’t think I’m as equal to them. They’re all three championship caliber teams and drivers. I think that we still have a ways to go before we’re at the level of those guys and that’s to me as a driver and my group getting fit together. Adam Stevens, my crew chief is a championship caliber crew chief. He’s won two championships. The team themselves have been there with the championships with Kyle (Busch) as well. All the people in the group have been there and done that. Just me getting used to them and them getting used to me and of course me getting up to speed as a driver.”
What is it that you like so much about Dover or that fits your driving style?
“It’s a great race track for me. I’ve always run really well there in the Xfinity cars, even in the trucks too. I never did win, but I had a couple good runs. It’s just a track where you can drive really hard and attack really hard and that’s something that fits my driving style. Going into Dover this year, I’m super excited about it because I just ran really well at Darlington last week, but it was one of my worst race tracks last year in the 95 car. A little bit confused to why that was, but I think us running good this year with the 750 package and especially having a great showing last weekend with the same rules package at Darlington is going to help us.”
What has been your experience with PJ1?
“The PJ1, it’s tricky. Whenever it gets run in, it has a ton of grip and it does widen the race track out once it gets run in. The tricky part is trying to get it to activate and it’s definitely slick at first. Whenever they first spray it, it takes a little bit of time to get worked in to where it gains grip. If nobody is going to run it in and get it worked in, then it’s pretty tough to race on.”
How have you established your identity at Joe Gibbs Racing surrounded by three championship teammates?
“It’s going to take a little bit more consistency and being up front. We’ve been able to be fairly competitive and I feel like we’re regularly in the top-10 at any point in the race, but we have to be in the top-10 at all points of the race and in the top-five the majority of points in the race and winning the race every now and then. All three of my teammates, Kyle (Busch), Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex Jr.) are championship caliber drivers. Two years ago, all three of them were in the final four. It’s going to be hard to keep up with them, there’s no doubt, but that’s the expectations and that’s the goals. The only way I don’t get left behind is if I start competing with them and beating them.”
What is the biggest lesson you took from your time at the 95?
“Probably just racing in the Cup Series, the experience that I got last year and it was very valuable. Just getting out there and competing with guys that you don’t compete with in the Xfinity Series. I think before in years past, the guys moving up from Xfinity to Cup, maybe the transition wasn’t as big because you had the top level Cup guys competing in the Xfinity Series fairly regularly. Nowadays, you don’t ever see the Cup guys expect for maybe a handful of them one or two times a year. Just getting the experience of racing with the veterans and racing with professional racers was really key. I’m very glad and grateful that I got the opportunity to get my Cup Series kicked off last year.”
Is running Dover and getting the top groove worked in similar to running a 410 sprint car?
“I don’t think it really relates to a sprint car unfortunately. Dover is a really unique place because on fresh tires and clean race track, you’re really, really glued to the bottom and it’s really hard to pass. It takes 10 to 20 or maybe 30 laps before the tires start to give up. I guess that’s similar to dirt track racing when the track’s really heavy, really fast and really tacky then as the night goes on, it gets slicker and slicker and it becomes easier to pass and you’re able to use different lines. I guess it is a little bit of race track, but it starts to lay rubber down and then the track changes throughout the course of a run. As soon as the yellow flies at Dover, you clean up all that rubber and you pick up all the rubber and then you’re starting from a fresh surface again and it takes time to lay the rubber back down.”
What has surprised you the most this season?
“I would say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well we’re running with the 750 package. I think if you look at my races from last year in the 95 car, the 750 package was one of my, not one of, but my worst races last year. The 550 package was our strength. This year, it’s kind of flipped. The 550 package has been a little bit of a struggle and the 750 package has been really good. That’s been a little bit surprising, but definitely a pleasant surprise.”
What are your thoughts on the level of competition with so many different winners and names like Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott still chasing a victory?
“It’s been really cool to see the diversity in the NASCAR Cup Series and right now we’ve got a lot of different teams that are clicking and are all running really well. That includes all three of my teammates right now. Hopefully, I can keep building on it and getting better. I want to be in the same category as my three teammates.”
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