As an open-wheel dirt stalwart who's known for riding high up on the cushion, Christopher Bell has been looking forward to his first start on the high banks of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Bell will be making the 20th start of his NASCAR Camping World Series career and the 13th of the 2016 season driving the No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Tundra at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile" on Wednesday night.
While it will be his first time competing in a race at the Tennessee track, it won't be his first time making laps at "The Last Great Colosseum." Bell, along with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammates William Byron and Cody Coughlin, took part in a rookie test at Bristol in the days following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race there in April. Over the course of the two-day test, Bell was able to make over 300 laps to prepare for this week's race.
Bell has excelled at high-banked race tracks across the various series he has competed in since transitioning his focus to pavement racing late in 2014. Last September, Bell led all 100 laps of the Winchester 100 ARCA/CRA Super Series Late Model event at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway. The Oklahoma native returned a month later for the prestigious Winchester 400 and led a race-high 204 laps, but with 50 laps to go made contact with the outside wall while dueling for the lead with eventual winner Erik Jones and was unable to continue.
The 21-year-old driver made his ARCA Racing Series debut with Venturini Motorsports on the high banks of Salem (Ind.) Speedway this April. He qualified second and went on to lead a race-high 91 laps, including the final 44 en route to victory. In the Truck Series, Bell had a strong showing at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the circuit's other concrete high-banked track. The talented youngster came from his ninth starting position to earn a third-place finish at the "Monster Mile."
Coming into this week's 200-lap event at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile," the two hottest drivers in the Truck Series drive a Tundra for KBM. Over the last five races, William Byron (148) has scored the most championship points with Bell (143) a close second. While Byron has scored three wins during that span, Bell only has one victory but has been the more consistent of the two. He has finished inside the top five in each of the last five races and has an average finish of 5.2 during that stretch compared to Byron's average finish of 6.8.
Bell comes into Bristol riding high, but he's still looking to cement his place in the inaugural Truck Series Chase. The best way to do that would be to park his No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Tundra in victory lane on Wednesday night and guarantee his spot by being one of three drivers with at least two wins with only three races remaining until the playoffs begin.