Christopher Bell relieved to share news of 2020 plans

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 28: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem - Gemaire Toyota, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 28, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Christopher Bell knew the score.

Then again, so did everyone else.

Bell has known for quite a while he would be transitioning to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car with Leavine Family Racing. Problem was, he couldn’t talk about it until all the pieces were in place.

Earlier this week, the announcement finally came, and Bell was relieved to be able to share the news after having been hammered for weeks about his 2020 plans.

“It was really frustrating, because I knew for such a long time and everyone else knew, too, but nobody could talk about it,” Bell said on Friday during a question-and-answer session with reporters. “Everyone is like ‘What are you doing next year?’ I’m like ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ It was really rewarding to finally get it out there.”

Another factor providing peace of mind is the news that Bell’s NASCAR Xfinity Series crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, will accompany the driver to LFR. Ratcliff already has six full seasons of Cup experience at Joe Gibbs Racing with Joey Logano (2012) and Matt Kenseth (2013-2017).

“It’s really big, because Jason understands me as a driver, and our communication is already off to a good start,” Bell said. “If we go there and we have bad days, he’s not going to be blaming me, because he’s worked with me and understands what my strengths and weaknesses are.”

One of the clear favorites for this year’s Xfinity championship, Bell won’t experience his first competition in the Cup car until the 2020 Daytona 500. NASCAR’s embargo on independent testing only increases the challenges of the move to the premier series.

“It’s just going to be a matter of just trying to maximize the practices that you get and the seat time in the races,” Bell said. “I don’t know. It’s going to be really different. The rules package between the two series right now is extremely different, so it’s definitely going to take some adjusting to get used to.”

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