Christopher Bell shines in his NASCAR debut
KBM development driver continues to improve his game on pavement.
Kyle Busch Motorsports enjoyed a tremendous showing in the Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway on Friday night.
For the third consecutive race, Erik Jones started from the pole — his fourth of the season. But after having a dominant truck in the last three races, Busch’s protege finally broke through in the American Ethanol 200 for his first victory of the season and his fifth career truck win overall.
But Jones’ teammate Christopher Bell’s performance was impressive as well. In just his first start in the truck series, the Norman, Okla.-native qualified 10th and finished fifth in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra.
Bell called the experience “a dream come true”.
My only expectation coming in was just to make sure I finished the race.
“I had a pretty good night – a remarkable night for me,” Bell said. “My only expectation coming in was just to make sure I finished the race. I just didn’t want to go out there and do anything stupid and get crashed or get tore up."
For now, Bell will return to his day job — running Late Models for KBM. Since last September, Bell has been honing his skills on pavement. Bell was a natural in the heavier cars. He won his fourth start and has earned four victories in seven Late Model races this season.
“As a kid growing up I think pretty much every short track driver in the United States wants to drive in NASCAR. So, whenever I got the call to be able to run a Truck race it was definitely a dream come true and hopefully this fifth-place finish will turn into some other races.”
Bell acknowledged that his transition to pavement has been a challenge. Although the Toyota development driver is a champion in his own right, having won the 2013 USAC National Midget title, that didn’t stop Bell from relying on team owner and Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch for advice prior to the show.
“I actually called him on the way over here," Bell said. "This is my first time ever on radial tires so everything that I’ve been on in the past – actually I don’t have a ton of pavement experience, but all of my pavement experience has been on bias ply tires which is a little bit different and that was probably one of the things that I was most nervous for coming in here was never running these tires so he gave me some pointers there.
“Coming here I just had one expectation and goal and that was just to finish the race. I really didn’t know what to expect to run and to come out with a top-five I’m just thrilled about it. Obviously being in a KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) truck definitely puts on a lot of pressure to you because they’re expected to run good and they do have really nice trucks. The truck was probably a little bit better than the driver tonight and I think Erik (Jones) proved that. I’m just really thankful to be here and hopefully I’ll get some more opportunities.”
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