Christopher Bell Is Ready For Gateway Motorsports Park

Christopher Bell

Although Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 will mark Christopher Bell’s first start at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., the talented youngster has raced on several dirt tracks within a short drive of the Gateway Arch and considers the greater St. Louis area one of the special places he has traveled to along his racing journey.
One of the 21-year-old’s fondest moments in his budding career happened just 40 miles from Gateway at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., Bell battled side-by-side for several laps with sprint car legend Sammy Swindell in the middle stages of a World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series race and then pulled away late to capture his second career win in the series. His first career win in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series also came just 90 miles from Gateway at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway in May of 2014.
Bell has never turned a lap at Gateway, but he did attend last year’s race in advance of his Truck Series debut at Iowa Speedway to observe crew chief Jerry Baxter and the rest of the No. 51 team that would be working with him the following week. Baxter who now calls the shots for Bell on the No. 4 team, has a history of success at the Illinois track. The veteran signal caller was atop the pit box for Darrell Wallace Jr., in the 2014 Truck Series event at Gateway in which Wallace Jr. led a race-high 85 laps and ended the day in victory lane. The California native also earned a pair of third-place finishes in NASCAR XFINITY Series action at the 1.25-mile oval; in 2006 with David Reutimann and again in 2010 with Trevor Bayne.
With top-10 finishes in four of the last five races on the Truck Series schedule, Bell’s results have been trending in an upward arch. As they say in racing, if you continue to run up front, sooner or later you’re going to end up in that special place they call victory lane.
Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 4 NCWTS Toyota Tundra:
 
You went to watch and learn during last year’s race at Gateway, what do you remember about that day?
“It was really hot and muggy.  Looking at the weather forecast it is going to be the exact same thing on Saturday. I’m going to have to make sure that going into this weekend I have a plan to keep my body hydrated. Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) had a really good truck with Matt Tifft driving last year — they were running in the top five before getting caught up in a crash. I know that Jerry also won there with Bubba (Darrell Wallace Jr.) in 2014, so I know that I’m going to have a good Tundra this weekend.”
Has your team told you how racing at Gateway will compare to racing at Martinsville?
“I’ve been told that Gateway races kind of like a big Martinsville with long straightaways and tight corners. Both sets of corners are different — one and two is a lot sharper than three and four — so that is something that I’m going to have to adjust to as a driver.”
The area around Gateway is a hot bed for dirt track racing, have you raced at any tracks near there?
“I’ve raced at a lot of dirt tracks that are 30 miles or less from Gateway, so it’s cool to be going back to that area and be running in the Truck Series. One of the favorite wins of my life was last year when I won a World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series race in Pevely, Missouri, so the area has a special place in my heart. Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., is another place that I really love and I’m actually going to go out there Friday night and watch some dirt racing.”
 
Jerry Baxter, crew chief of the No. 4 NCWTS Toyota Tundra:
 
How does Gateway compare to some of the other flat tracks on the schedule?
“It is very similar to the other flat tracks on the Truck Series schedule. The corners are a little different on each end, but you have a lot of hard braking getting into both of them. It’ll be a new track for Christopher, but he’ll be able to carry over some of the things he learned at Martinsville earlier this season. After getting in a rhythm at Martinsville he was turning some pretty fast lap times and we were in position for a top-10 finish before he got caught up in a wreck late in the race. We’ve got a pretty good baseline setup for these flat tracks and a good notebook to work off of, so I’m confident that we’ll have another fast Tundra this weekend.”
Christopher Bell’s No. 4 Toyota Tundra:
 
KBM-25: The No. 4 Toyota Racing team will unload chassis KBM-25 for Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park. The Tundra will be seeing action for the first time this season, but produced two top-five and three top-10 finishes across four starts in 2015.
KBM-25 Performance Profile:
Date
Site
Driver
Start
Finish
Laps
Laps Led
Status
11/13/2015
Phoenix
Suarez
8
4
150/150
0
running
9/26/2015
New Hampshire
Busch
2
11
175/175
67
running
6/19/2015
Iowa
Bell
10
5
200/200
0
running
3/28/2015
Martinsville
Suarez
11
6
258/258
0
running
Totals
4 starts, 0 Wins
7.8
6.5
67
 
Notes of Interest:
 
Christopher Bell 2016:
  • Has posted two top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.6 across eight NCWTS starts
  • Is currently 12th in the Truck Series championship standings, 19 points out of the eighth and final chase spot
  • Ranks second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, trailing KBM teammate William Byron by 30 points
  • Recorded a season-best third-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway (5/13/16) and earned a season-best third-place starting position at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (2/27/16)
  • Led a race-high 91 laps, including the final 44, of the 200-lap event at Salem (Ind.) Speedway en route to victory in his first-career start in the ARCA Racing Series (4/24/16)
  • Picked up his eighth career Late Model victory for KBM with a win in the CARS Super Late Model Tour Orange Blossom 300 at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C. (4/16/16) and on dirt has picked up wins in the inaugural Ohio Sprint Car Series event at Atomic Speedway in Waverly, Ohio (3/26/16), the NRA Sprint Invaders race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (5/29/16) and the USAC National Midget race as part of Indiana Midget Week at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway (6/3/16)
Christopher Bell NCWTS Career Stats:
Year
Races
Win
T5
T10
Pole
Laps
Led
AvSt
AvFn
RAF
Miles
LLF
2016
8
0
2
4
0
1180
47
9.5
14.6
6
1400.5
5
2015
7
1
2
3
0
1018
111
9.3
11.9
6
1361.7
4
Totals
15
1
4
7
0
2198
158
9.4
13.3
12
2762.2
9
Christopher Bell 2015:
  • Claimed his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio in just his third series start
  • Recorded one win, 111 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across seven NCWTS starts
  • Collected six victories in 15 starts behind the wheel of KBM’s No. 51 Late Model, including his first marquee win when he led 203 of 250 laps of the prestigious Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in Kinston
  • Made two NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts, including a fifth-place finish in the East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway
  • On dirt, collected six POWRi Midget wins, two USAC National Midget wins, one USAC Silver Crown win and also collected his second career World of Outlaws Sprint Car triumph
Christopher Bell 2014
  • Collected an amazing 27 feature wins while competing in 108 events between Midgets (18 wins), Winged Sprint Cars (seven wins), Non-Winged Sprint Cars (one win) on dirt and Late Models (one win) on pavement
  • In just his fourth career Late Model start, outdueled second-generation NASCAR driver John Hunter Nemechek to win the Orange County 150 Pro All Star Series (PASS) South Super Late Model race at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C. 
Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Tundra:
  • The No. 4 Tundra has collected three wins, five poles, 13 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes across 31 starts since originating in 2015
  • Five members of this year’s No. 4 Tundra team were a part of last year’s No. 51 team that collected two wins, 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes
  • Erik Jones delivered KBM its first-ever Driver’s Championship behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra in 2015 and also gave the organization its third consecutive and fourth career Owner’s Title 
KBM NCWTS Program
  • Has collected a series’ record four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner’s Championships, one Driver’s Championship, 49 Truck Series victories and 24 poles across 298 starts since originating in 2010
  • 49 career Truck Series victories as an organization ranks second all-time behind Roush Fenway (50)
  • 14 victories as an organization during the 2014 season broke the Truck Series record of 12 set by Ultra Motorsports in 2001
  • Eight different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 29. Erik Jones has collected seven victories, Darrell Wallace Jr., has five wins, William Byron has earned three trophies, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Christopher Bell, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott have all collected one triumph
  • Has collected victories at 20 of the 21 tracks on the 2016 schedule, excluding Atlanta Motor Speedway
KBM NCWTS @ Gateway Motorsports Park
  • KBM drivers have collected one win, 173 laps led, one top-five and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 18.0 across six starts at Gateway
  • Darrell Wallace Jr., led a race-high 85 laps en route to victory in the 2014 event. 
The Book on Baxter:
Veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter is in his fourth season atop the pit box for KBM. Since joining KBM, Baxter’s drivers have posted seven wins, three poles, 1218 laps led, 26 top-five and 42 top-10 finishes across 73 starts. The California native spent the 2015 season calling the shots for KBM’s No. 51 team, which collected two wins, 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes with drivers Daniel Suarez (12 starts), Matt Tifft (six starts), Kyle Busch (three starts), and Christopher Bell (one start) behind the wheel. In addition to his seven wins at KBM, he boasts one other Truck Series win (Cale Gale, 2012) and one NASCAR XFINITY Series win (David Reutimann, 2007).
Baxter guided Darrell Wallace Jr., to victory in the 2014 Truck Series event at Gateway and also produced a pair of third-place finishes in the XFINITY Series (Trevor Bayne, 2010 and David Reutimann, 2006) at the Illinois track.
 
Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Tundra 2016 NCWTS Box Score:
 
Date
Site
Driver
Start
Finish
Laps
Laps Led
Status
Driver Pts./Pos.
19-Feb
Daytona
Bell
8
16
99/100
0
Running
17/14th
27-Feb
Atlanta
Bell
3
26
122/130
42
Accident
25/21st
2-Apr
Martinsville
Bell
14
19
255/255
0
Running
39/22nd
6-May
Kansas
Bell
5
4
170/170
5
Running
69/14th
13-May
Dover
Bell
9
3
200/200
0
Running
99/9th
20-May
Charlotte
Bell
15
8
134/134
0
Running
124/9th
10-Jun
Texas
Bell
9
32
0/167
0
Engine
125/13th
18-Jun
Iowa
Bell
13
9
200/200
0
Running
149/12th

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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