Bell to make 100th Cup career start at Kansas

Competing in his third full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Christopher Bell is scheduled to achieve a milestone start. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s Playoff event at Kansas Speedway, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota TRD Camry will achieve 100 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native of Norman, Oklahoma, and a champion of the Camping World Truck Series in 2017, Bell made his inaugural presence in the Cup Series during the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in February 2020. By then, he was coming off two full-time seasons in the Xfinity Series that was highlighted with 15 victories and two Championship Round appearances. Driving the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota Camry, Bell finished 21st in his Cup debut after being involved in a late multi-car wreck while running towards the front.

After finishing no higher than 21st during the first five scheduled events, Bell managed to finish 11th at Darlington Raceway in May before achieving his first top-10 career result in the Cup circuit by finishing ninth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Despite collecting his first top-five career result at Pocono Raceway in June along with three additional top-10 results throughout the regular season stretch, he struggled with maintaining on-track consistency as he did not make the 2020 Cup Playoffs. During the final 10 scheduled events, he managed to finish 10th at Kansas Speedway and collect a season-best third-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in October before settling in 20th place in the final standings.

When Leavine Family Racing ceased operations following the 2020 NASCAR season, Bell reunited with Joe Gibbs Racing, the team he competed in two full-time Xfinity seasons, to pilot the No. 20 Toyota Camry, where he replaced Erik Jones. After finishing 16th in the 63rd running of the Daytona 500, Bell scored his first Cup career victory during the following weekend at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course after passing Joey Logano prior to the final lap. The victory made Bell the 197th different competitor to win in NASCAR’s premier series and the 11th to do so for Joe Gibbs Racing as he snapped a one-year winless drought for JGR’s No. 20 team. In the process, Bell became the first Oklahoma competitor to win in the Cup Series.

Following his breakthrough victory at Daytona, Bell notched three additional top-five results, including two runner-up results (Road America in June and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July), and nine top-10 results before making his first entrance in the Playoffs as one of 16 competitors vying for the 2021 title. Despite finishing 20th, third and 29th respectively in the Round of 16, he was one of 12 competitors to advance to the Round of 12. His title hopes, however, came to an end during the second round after finishing 24th, fifth and eighth respectively. Nonetheless, Bell finished in the top 10 three times during the final four scheduled events before settling in 12th place in the final standings. By then, he nearly quadrupled his top-five results achieved in a season from two to seven, doubled his top-10 results from seven to 16 and improved his average-finishing result from 20.3 to 15.8 in comparison to his rookie Cup season.

Remaining at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2022, Bell rallied from finishing no higher than 10th through the first five scheduled events by notching nine top-10 results through the following 14 events. By then, he had achieved his first three career poles in the Cup circuit. He then became the 14th different winner of the 2022 Cup Series season after earning his second career victory at New Hampshire in July. The New Hampshire victory along with a total of seven top-five results, 14 top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 14.5 throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch were enough for him to make his second consecutive appearance in the Cup Series Playoffs. Coming off a fifth-place run in the Playoff opener at Darlington Raceway for the Cook Out Southern 500, Bell is ranked in fourth place in the Playoff standings and is 28 points above the top-12 cutline to transfer into the Round of 12 field, which will be determined at Bristol Motor Speedway in mid-September.

Photo by Kirk Schroll for SpeedwayMedia.com.

Through 99 previous Cup starts, Bell has achieved two victories, three poles, 17 top-five results, 38 top-10 results, 380 laps led and an average-finishing result of 17.0 while he pursues his first Cup Series title.

Bell is scheduled to make his 100th Cup Series career start at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, September 11, with the event’s coverage scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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