Christopher Bell could clinch two NASCAR titles this weekend
Christopher Bell is doing championship double-duty this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Bell is the favorite to win the Camping World Truck Series championship in Friday night’s Ford 200 series finale after ending the season with a series-high five wins in his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
But he will also have the opportunity on Saturday to help Joe Gibbs Racing win the owner’s championship in the Xfinity Series, as he drives its No. 20 Toyota in the Ford 300 series finale.
Bell has driven seven Xfinity races this season for JGR (four in the No. 18, two in the No. 20) and has one win, three top-five and five top-10 finishes. He will compete full-time in the series next season.
In one year, Bell has doubled his championship opportunities and hopes the experience of competing for last season’s Truck title will help in his dual title quest this season.
“To be able to make it to the Championship 4 my first year racing for a championship was a great experience for me,” Bell said Thursday at Championship Media Day. “I know what the weekend is about now. I’ve been through this a time.
“Hopefully, we can capitalize on it this year and get a better result.”
Bell, 22, finished eighth in the season finale last year and third-highest among the four championship contenders. He faces two of them again this year – reigning champion Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton. Rookie Austin Cindric is the other.
Bell credits his enormous improvement in Trucks from a year ago to his crew chief this year, Rudy Fugle. Fugle served as crew chief for then-rookie William Byron last year, when he led the series with seven wins.
“I’ve got really fast trucks. You know, that’s been the biggest difference-maker this year is just being able to unload off the truck and go fast, and to be able to win races,” he said.
“Last year I wasn’t able to win races and we came into Homestead kind of barely making it, squeaking through, and just running mediocre. We had a good last half of the season but a good last half of the season for us was running top-fives.
“Now this year, we’ve been able to win a bunch of races and compete for wins week-in and week-out and that's just a credit to the fast trucks I’ve got.”
Facing off with Truck veterans
Bell believes the biggest threat for the title in Friday night’s race is Sauter, who was earned three of his four wins this season in the playoffs, including the last two races.
“Last year he didn't start off the season that great and got really, really good coming up to Homestead, and he was able to capitalize on it,” Bell said of Sauter. “Same thing this year – he’s won the last two races, so that’s really big momentum for him.
“Last year you saw that Sauter won the championship by running fourth or fifth in the race. Whenever you go into the race, you pay attention to the other three guys because the big picture is all that matters.
“That’s our goal, to pay attention to the other three, and all we’ve got to do is beat them.”
BKR Take on Trucks – Team working hard to go out a champion
Sauter "not looking for fights," but ready to defend 2016 crown