CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
This is your third pole at Kansas. What are you going to do with another pedal car?
“I don’t even know where my other two are, so I’m going to have to figure that out and add to the collection.”
It’s your third pole this year. What do you need to finish the race in first?
“We have everything we need to win the races, that is for sure. Our cars are super-fast. I feel like I’ve been driving pretty well, especially the last couple of weeks specifically. We just have to maintain our track position. We’ve really struggled on pit road and that’s one of the reasons why we are not contending for wins. If we can get our pit road struggles underhand, then we are going to be a contender for sure.”
How much do you think your program has improved?
“It’s been good. We’ve definitely been a lot more consistent this year and I think a lot of that is just Adam Stevens (crew chief) figuring out what I need in the race car to be successful. Last year, we didn’t have qualifying and very few – I guess we had a few races with practice and qualifying, but now, when you have practice every week and qualifying every week, there is just many more data points, so that Adam can hone in on what I need to be successful. We would hit it every now and then last year and be competitive, but we would have moments when we were off, and it seems like we are hitting on all cylinders, and he is able to consistency give me what I need in the car.”
How antsy are you to get back to victory lane?
“I just try to focus on doing my job as good as I can. It’s very much a team sport. I’m only as good as my mechanics, engineer, my crew chief and they’ve been allowing me to succeed by giving me great equipment. Same thing – we have had a lot of pit road issues, but we are all a team. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes on the racetrack, and I’ve never heard anyone on the pit crew come over and tell me that I screwed up. I try to just focus on what I do best and do as good of a job that I can.”
Do you view yourself as a leader of this team now?
“That’s one thing that – you look at the different teams across the garage, and you have different situations. For me and my situation, I let the crew chief lead the team. Whenever I’ve been most successful in my racing career in general, it’s whenever I have very good crew chiefs at managing the teams. When you go back to the start of my career at Keith Kunz Motorsports, Keith Kunz was that guy. Then moving to Kyle Busch Motorsports, I had Bond Suss in the late models and Rudy Fugle. They are just excellent at controlling their team and being the leader of the team. I don’t feel like that I have the personality to lead the team. I need to have a leader and being paired up with the crew chiefs that I have – I mentioned Rudy, Bond, Keith, and then you have Jason Ratcliff and Adam Stevens. They have been excellent at that. I let them lead the team and follow their direction and focus on doing my job as good as I can.”
Three dirt guys lead the field tomorrow. How do you battle and claim your real estate?
“It’s going to be tough to pass. Once everyone gets to the top, it’s going to be tough to pass. Fortunately, I start in front of them, so hopefully that gives me a little bit of an advantage. You are going to have to really execute all of the details. You need to get off pit road first, have the best restarts. The track is going to race a little bit different tomorrow, because when the tires are good and the track gets cleaned up after yellows – we are going to be at the bottom, so the guys that can time that the best and maximize the time of the bottom and get up to the top at the right time is going to be the guy that succeeds. Later on in tires, when we all migrate to the top, it’s going to be tough to past but you are going to have to make sure you execute before that.”