Don’t tell Christopher Bell he’s a favorite

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 13: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem/Smurfit Kappa Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 13, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Xfinity Series championship contender Christopher Bell’s future is undoubtedly a hot topic among NASCAR fans eager to know if he has a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride on the horizon. But Bell is remaining vigilant about the task at hand – winning the 2019 Xfinity Series title.

He shows up for the series’ regular season finale, Saturday’s Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) tied with Cole Custer for the most wins (six) in the Xfinity Series this season and sits in second place – 50 points behind the leader, four-race winner Tyler Reddick in the points standings.

Yet Bell refuses to consider himself “the favorite” in racing for the title.

“It’s definitely elevated our game because we have a lot of really competitive cars right now,’’ Bell said. “There’s not really a favorite right now so we just have to go out there and establish myself and my team as the favorite.’’

Bell, who drives the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, finished runner-up in his first ever Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas last year and was 13th this March. Yet his record on the season makes him an absolute favorite on Saturday. In addition to his six victories, he has four runner-up finishes and four third-place showings. He’s finished in the top three in 14 of 25 races this season – a 56 percent clip.

Certainly that gives Bell, the 2017 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion and 2013 USAC National Midget champ, reason to be optimistic. And all good vibes help, he said.

“That’s really good and I hope that we can keep it up,’’ Bell said. “That’s always been my goal, just to go out there and win. Last year we were fortunate enough to win the first race of the Playoffs and that locked us into the next round, so that would be a really big goal for us.’’