JGR Officially Announces Bell for No. 20 in Cup Series

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)

The biggest non-secret in NASCAR was unveiled Monday as Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Christopher Bell will take over the No. 20 Toyota in NASCAR’s Cup series starting next season.

JGR announced last week that current driver Erik Jones will not return to the team after this season.

Bell is the 2017 Truck Series champion. He’s currently a Toyota Racing Development driver and races for Leavine Family Racing in the Cup series. That team, who has an alliance with JGR, recently announced they will be shutting down at the end of this season.

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” said Bell. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Bell won 16 races for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series before moving to the Cup Series for the 2020 season. He has been in Toyota’s NASCAR national-series system since 2015 and clinched the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship two years later for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Bell currently sits 19th in the Cup Series standings, with five top-10 finishes in 22 starts in the Leavine No. 95 Toyota, which shares a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. A slow start to the first five races of his Cup career knocked him outside the top 30 in points, but Bell has methodically rallied to his current rank. His best finish this season is fourth place, achieved during the first of two events this season at Pocono Raceway.

Bell joins an experienced and accomplished Joe Gibbs Racing lineup that includes Cup Series champions Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., plus Denny Hamlin, who leads the series in wins this season. He becomes the fifth person to drive the No. 20 for Gibbs, following Tony Stewart, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Jones.

“We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Greg Engle