Christopher Bell is carrying the banner for young drivers

Christopher Bell at the 2016 Chase media day in Miami Beach Thursday. (Greg Engle)
Christopher Bell at the 2016 Chase media day in Miami Beach Thursday.  (Greg Engle)
Christopher Bell at the 2016 Chase media day in Miami Beach Thursday. (Greg Engle)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Christopher Bell may respect his elders, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be trying his best to beat them.

The 21-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie is the sole representative of NASCAR’s youth movement still eligible for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, which will be decided in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200.

Matt Crafton, 40, is a two-time series champion. Fellow Championship 4 competitors Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters are 38 and 36, respectively.

Just because the veterans have thousands more miles in NASCAR competition, however, that doesn’t mean Bell is discounting his own chances in the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

“Do I consider myself the underdog?” Bell asked rhetorically. “No. Does everybody else? Probably. I think we’ve got everything it takes to be successful at Homestead. Our year has definitely not been the year we wanted. We only won one race. But we’re going to make it two after Friday.”

After a rough start to the season, Bell has scored top-10 finishes in 12 of his last 14 races. And Crafton, for one, has noticed.

“It was good to see Christopher, their team,” Crafton said. “He’s come a long ways from the start of the year, his mistakes and this and that, but we all made those when we were starting in this series.

“To see that he’s made it into the Championship 4 is definitely very big for him, and I guess the cream rises to the top.”

Bell, who won the USAC National Midget title in 2013, is used to being the new kid on the block.

“With me only being 21 years old, it’s kind of been… so far it’s been my whole life,” Bell said. “I’ve always been the young guy. It’s nothing new to me right now. Whenever I won the USAC championship, it was me and Bryan Clauson that were the two guys at the end of the year who were racing for the championship.

“He was the veteran, and I was the rookie. I’ve been in this situation before, obviously not at this magnitude, but I do have experience at championship racing and pressure moments, so I’m excited to get the pressure on Friday and do my best to conquer it.”

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