Toyota Racing – Christopher Bell
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Talladega Superspeedway – October 13, 2017
Kyle Busch Motor Sports driver Christopher Bell was made available to the media at Talladega Superspeedway:
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Can you share with us what your plans are for 2018?
“Yeah, it’s really exciting, actually, to be able to go and run full‑time in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing is ‑‑ obviously it’s a dream come true, and it’s really cool to be able to move up the ladder underneath the Toyota banner. I can remember I think it was Chili Bowl 2014, myself, Tyler Gibbs and Jack Irving all went and sat down, and I was coming off the USAC national midget driver championship, which was the first for Toyota, and Jack and Tyler sat down and kind of ‑‑ we were just talking about the future and how it was going to work out. Now a couple years later to be able to be moving up and going into the XFINITY Series with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing is a dream come true, and really thankful for the opportunities. It’s been great to be able to go from Keith Kunz Motorsports on the dirt side to Kyle Busch Motorsports in the late models, and then as well as the Truck Series, so I’ve been with great organizations, and it’s going to continue with Joe Gibbs.”
This year you’ve got all these wins coming into this race, but looking forward to next year, are you a little bit nervous? Are you worried about that? Are you ready for the next step in your career?
“I’m excited. One thing that Toyota has done a great job of is preparing me for the next stepping‑stone. Whenever I was running late models at Kyle Busch Motorsports, they were kind of trickling me into some truck races, and I think I got seven truck races that year before I went full‑time, and it worked out again this year where I’m going to have, I think, eight XFINITY races before I go full‑time next year, so that’s great seat time for me. I’m going to be able to be with the organization and kind of learn how they operate, and driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, you already have somewhat of a feel for how they do things, and I think it’s a great fit and the perfect stepping‑stone.”
Christopher, you’ve made, I think, four XFINITY Series starts this year. From a competitive standpoint, how does that relate to the Truck Series when you’re out there?
“Well, the field is a lot deeper, that’s for sure. There’s a lot more quality cars in the XFINITY Series, and I mean, other than that, it’s still racing. Every step along the way you’re racing against professional race car drivers, and that goes back all the way to when I was racing USAC and World of Outlaws on the dirt side of things, you’re racing against professional race car drivers. It’s just another division. I feel like the cars are going to actually maybe even suit my driving style a little bit more than the trucks would. I’m excited, man. I can’t wait. Let’s go.”
Next weekend you’re going to run, return to the XFINITY Series, run Kansas, and then Texas, Phoenix, Homestead. How important is that stretch to get you ready for 2018?
“Well, like I said, Toyota has done a great job of preparing me for each step, and that’s kind of how it worked out with the Truck Series. I was able to do, I think, Vegas, Talladega, Texas, Homestead, the last couple races in the truck schedule before I went full‑time in the Truck Series. And same thing this year, I got a couple XFINITY races earlier in the year to get my feet wet, and then I’ve got a lot here to try and prepare me for next year. So it’s a great schedule that they’ve laid out for me, and I’m going to try and take everything I can get from these next couple XFINITY races that I can drive and try and learn everything and prepare myself as well as I can for next year.”
With the additional races that are in the XFINITY Series, what does that do to your sprint car Chili Bowl schedule?
“Well, I’ve done sprint car racing for 2017. There’s really no more that I can do. I do have one more midget race, Turkey Night that’s after Homestead on Thanksgiving Day. As far as other dirt stuff, the Chili Bowl, I’ll be at the Chili Bowl, of course, but yeah, that’s all I’ve got for the remainder of 2017.”
“I don’t know, we haven’t really talked too much about it. I see Jack is over there grinning. We haven’t talked too much about it. We’ll have to play it by ear.”
What does it mean for you to have such an investment from Toyota in your career?
“Well, as a kid growing up, I was just a dirt track racer, so there was really no feasible path to get to NASCAR, and then you see Larson, he went to Keith Kunz Motorsports driving for Toyota, and then unfortunately there wasn’t a path there for him, so he went to Ganassi and that route. But then from that point on, I was able to win the drivers’ championship, and they gave me an opportunity at Kyle Busch Motorsports. So to be able to be associated with Toyota through my entire young career has been a dream come true, and just thankful. I can’t say that enough how thankful I am that they’ve believed in me through the thick and thin. Last year I had a really ‑‑ not a great season, and then this year has been really great. They believed in me enough to give me another opportunity this year in the Truck Series, and I’m really thankful for that, and I’m thankful that we get to continue our partnership.