CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Even though Christopher Bell’s body of work in the NASCAR Xfinity Series features a mere eight races, there’s ample reason to install the 23-year-old from Norman, Oklahoma, as the favorite to win the title as a rookie this year.
The reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, Bell has a victory and five top-10 finishes in his eight Xfinity starts. Bell will be driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, a car that has proven itself capable of winning whenever it takes to the pavement.
In addition, Bell will benefit from the services of crew chief Jason Ratcliff, who has 36 career Xfinity victories (as well as 15 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) and helped Kyle Busch secure his NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2009.
Clearly, the potential is there. It’s simply a matter of realizing it, and of that Bell is acutely aware.
“I just have to live up to it now,” he said on Wednesday at the Charlotte Convention Center during the NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I’ve got the equipment to do it. I’ve got the crew chief to do it. So I just have to do it.
“To win a championship, especially with this (elimination) format—it’s so hard to do. So you have to be good at Homestead (for the Championship 4 race). If you’re not good at Homestead, you can write it off. That’s a very key part of winning a championship.
“But before that, you have to win races throughout the year to put yourself in that position. We’ve got a long road to go before we worry about winning a championship. We just need to focus on being competitive, qualifying good and capitalizing on the speed that we should have and trying to win races.”