Christopher Bell is focusing on the present—for now

News of Kasey Kahne’s impending departure from full-time NASCAR racing put the rumor mill into overdrive.

With Kahne’s current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team, Leavine Family Racing, reportedly contemplating a manufacturer switch from Chevrolet to Toyota, there was speculation that Joe Gibbs Racing phenom Christopher Bell might step into a Cup ride with LFR.

During an appearance at the Bristol motor Speedway media center on Thursday, Bell put the brakes on that notion.

“That was all news to me,” Bell said of Kahne’s announcement. “Right now, I’ve got a great group of people, getting to drive for all of our partners at Ruud and Rheem, GameStop, and I’ve got great race cars at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota support.

“Right now, the only thing I’ve got is that I’m finishing out this year, and then next year I’m going for the Xfinity championship again with all of our same partners.”

Bell has four victories in the series this year and currently tops the standings with a 17-point lead over Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric, who are tied for second though last Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio.