For Norman, Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell winning the Chili Bowl Nationals has been a lifelong dream.
Although the recently signed Kyle Busch Motorsports racer just turned 21, he’s been attending the prestigious event at Tulsa Expo Raceway for as long as he can remember.
“If you give me one race a year, it’s this race,” Bell said after winning the A Main on Thursday. “It’s something I want to win so badly and I promise, I want to win it more than anyone else in here. I’m glad to be in this position and hopefully can carry this momentum into Saturday.”
Chances of capturing the Golden Driller
With Keith Kunz's equipment underneath him for the event, Bell knows his chances are good. His teammate Rico Abreu won the Chili Bowl last year. Bell won all of his races on Thursday and will start on the front row in Saturday’s A Main with Abreu behind him and Kasey Kahne four rows back. Kunz’ fourth and fifth Toyotas, with Tanner Thorson and Kyle Larson behind the wheels, will have to race their way into the A from the B Main.
This is the race I really want to win, I’ll be really disappointed if I don’t ever win it
Despite racing against some of the Chili Bowl’s toughest talent under the same roof, Bell says the Kunz competition is friendly.
“We’re used to racing each other hard but we have to respect each other, too,” Bell said. “We all have the same race cars so we’re all pretty equal. And all of my teammates and I have been really fast all week. It’s just an honor to be in these race cars.”
Shifting focus back to budding NASCAR career
Once the Chili Bowl concludes, Bell will set his sights on running for rookie honors in the Camping World Truck Series. The Toyota Racing development driver turned head last season by winning the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in just his third start on the tour.
Bell believes the ability to run seven races in 2015 will help him get off to a solid start this season.
“I hope to compete for the championship,” Bell said. “I got to do race a lot of different tracks last year and so I got some seat time underneath me. Hopefully we’ll be really good.”
For now, Bell’s complete concentration is on the prize at hand — the iconic Chili Bowl Golden Driller that will be awarded to Saturday night’s victor.
“Patience is the key — it got prove time and time again here last year,” said Bell, who looks to improve on his career-best finish of third in 2014 . “If you got a good race car and you were smart, you were able to work your way through there regardless of what happens in the heat races and the qualifiers.
“This is the race I really want to win, I’ll be really disappointed if I don’t ever win it. As long as I keep my head on me, I think I should be all right.”