Can Christopher Bell Add A Second CWTS Victory At Eldora To His Resume?

Christopher Bell

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio this week for Wednesday’s night’s Fifth Annual Eldora Dirt Derby. Christopher Bell, who won the event in 2015, will be looking to add to his series-leading three wins in the race which will be aired on the Fox Business Network.

The 22-year-old driver, who cut his racing teeth on dirt tracks around the country, has seen his NASCAR stock on the rise in 2017. Bell enters Wednesday night’s event second in the Truck Series championship standings, 28 points behind reigning champion Johnny Sauter, but leads the circuit in wins (three), poles (three), playoff points (19), laps led (492), driver rating (118.6) and fastest laps run (209). The Oklahoma native has also made two starts for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series bringing home a fourth-place finish in his debut at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May and most recently earning the pole and leading a race-high 152 laps at Iowa Speedway in Newton before being relegated to a 16th-place finish after getting caught up in an accident while leading with 80 laps to go.

While his NASCAR stock is on the rise, Bell continues to keep his racing portfolio diversified by competing in dirt races around the country when his schedules allows him to do so. The talented wheelman got a jump start on the competition at Eldora this past weekend running three shows with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at the half-mile clay oval. He was victorious in the Knight Before the Kings Royal Friday night. Saturday night an engine problem in his heat left him with a 20thstarting position for the prestigious Kings Royal feature, but he managed to wheel his car all the way to a runner-up finish despite the fact the 40-lap event proceeded caution free from green to checkered.

Bell’s win at Eldora Friday night was his third time he’s cashed in driving a Sprint Car in 2017. He also won the Lou Blaney Memorial All-Star Circuit of Champions event at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway on July 8 and the NRA Sprint Invaders feature at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio on April 21. He also has five Midget victories on dirt in 2017, starting off with the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway in January. He then swept both features at the Fourth Annual POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Turnpike Challenge at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City, Okla., in March and won consecutive USAC Midget National events at Macon (Ill.) Speedway and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway on July 1 and 2.

Eldora Speedway is Bell’s “favorite racetrack in the whole world” and the track where he put himself on the NASCAR map. In just his third career Truck Series start he led 106 of 154 laps to earn his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. Last year, Bell managed a runner-up finish behind fellow dirt standout and current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series star Kyle Larson. With his NASCAR stock on the rise, the talented wheeleman hopes to earn Truck Series victory number four of 2017, gain valuable playoff points and continue on his quest to winning his first NASCAR championship.

Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 4 NCWTS Toyota Tundra:

 

How does it feel heading into Eldora as the only returning series regular that has a win at the half-mile dirt track? 

“It’s great. Eldora is my favorite racetrack in the whole world. I grew up running a lot of laps there. I think over my dirt career here, I’ve run more laps at Eldora than I have anywhere in the world. To go back to Eldora riding the momentum from our Kentucky win in the Truck Series is going to be exciting. I think I’ve got as good a shot as anybody to win the race and it’s one of my favorite races of the year, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Do you see Eldora as a race where you can gain on Johnny Sauter in the point standings?

“Yes and no. The thing is about the points is that we really have two different point standings. You have the playoff standings and then you have the regular season standings. So, while Johnny Sauter is leading the regular season standings, I believe I’m leading the playoff standings. After we won a race, our team switched our focus to the playoff standings more so than the regular season. I feel like we’ve been doing an excellent job of capitalizing on the playoff points by winning as many races as we can, as well as trying to win stages. Whenever we go for stage points, we’re very mindful to not put ourselves in a position where we lose overall race points. So, as far as the regular season standings goes, I feel like this is a very good place for me to catch up on Johnny because Johnny is not a dirt guy and I am. So hopefully we can close the gap a little bit in the regular standings and then add to our championship standings as well.”

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle, crew chief of the No. 4 NCWTS Toyota Tundra:

 

You’ve won races at 14 different tracks on the Truck Series schedule. Do you feel like this is your best chance to add Eldora to that list?

“Definitely – I have a driver that has finished first and second in his two races there and our organization has had a good setup for Eldora. I feel like for the guys on my team this is our best chance for us to go and get a win there, but it’s a little bit of a crap shoot with all the different things that can happen — almost like a Talladega or Martinsville.”

Will you allow Christopher to have more input in the setup this week because of his dirt background?

“I will involve him a little bit more with some of the decisions on what he wants in our setup this week because he has a better idea of what he needs to be able to go fast there then I do. I think he can handle whatever situation comes about, so I’d rather let him have what he wants to make the truck drive the way he needs it to.”

Christopher Bell’s No. 4 Toyota Tundra:

 

KBM-134D: The No. 4 Toyota Tundra team will unload KBM-134D for Wednesday night’s Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The chassis has raced the last two events at Eldora with a best finish of fourth by Erik Jones in 2015.

 

Date

Site

Driver

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

7/20/2016

Eldora

Byron

18

14

150/150

0

running

7/22/2015

Eldora

Jones

19

4

154/154

0

running

2 Starts, 0 Wins

18.5

9.0

0

 

Notes of Interest:

 

Christopher Bell NCWTS Career Stats:

 

Year

Age

Races

Win

T5

T10

Pole

Laps

Led

AvSt

AvFn

RAF

LLF

2015

20

7 of 23

1

2

3

0

1018

111

9.3

11.9

6

4

2016

21

23 of 23

1

9

17

0

3237

197

9.2

9.5

20

19

2017

22

10 of 10

3

7

9

3

1493

492

4.4

5.7

9

9

3 years

40

5

18

29

3

5748

800

8.0

9.0

35

32

 

Christopher Bell’s NCWTS Eldora Performance Profile:

 

Date

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

7/20/16

10

2

150/150

0

running

7/22/15

4

1

154/154

106

running

Christopher Bell 2017 Highlights

  • Has posted three wins (Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta), three poles, 492 laps led, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 5.7 across 10 NCWTS events

  • After 10 races, sits second the NCWTS championship standings trailing reigning champion Johnny Sauter by 28 points

  • Leads the NCWTS in wins (three), poles (three), driver rating (118.6), playoff points (19), laps led (492) and fastest laps run (209)

  • Became first driver under NASCAR’s new format to sweep all three stages of a race when he led 99 of 130 laps en route to victory from the pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway (3/14/17)

  • Has one pole, one top-five and one top-10 finish in two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing

  • In Midgets has five victories; opened the 2017 season by winning the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway (1/15/17), swept both features at the Fourth Annual POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Turnpike Challenge at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City, Okla. (3/26/17) and won consecutive USAC National Midget events at Macon (Ill.) Speedway (7/1/17) and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway (7/2/17)

  • In Sprint Cars has three victories; won the NRA Sprint Invaders feature at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio (4/21/17), the Ninth Annual Lou Blaney Memorial All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car race at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway (7/8/17) and the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (7/14/17)

Christopher Bell 2016 Highlights

  • Finished third in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase after collecting one win, nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes across 23 NCWTS starts in his first full-time campaign

  • Earned his first NCWTS win of 2016, his first on pavement and the second of his career, when he led 38 of the final 42 laps at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.

  • Ranked first among NCWTS drivers in quality passes (782), third in driver rating (95.9), fastest laps run (189), average running position (9.608) and green flag speed (6.421)

  • Finished second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings behind KBM teammate William Byron

  • 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 and made it a sweep of the Indiana track leading 88 laps and bringing home the victory in the September event

  • Picked up his eighth career Late Model victory for KBM with a win in the CARS Super Late Model Tour event at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C and on dirt collected four 410-Winged Sprint Car wins and one USAC National Midget victory 

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Tundra:

  • The No. 4 Tundra has collected seven wins, eight poles, 27 top-five and 46 top-10 finishes across 56 starts since originating in 2015

  • Ten members of this year’s No. 4 Tundra team were a part of last year’s No. 9 Tundra team which collected seven wins, three poles, 727 laps led, 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes across 23 starts last season and captured the 2016 NCWTS Owner’s Championship

  • Erik Jones delivered KBM its first-ever NASCAR Camping World (NCWTS) Driver’s Championship behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra in 2015 

KBM NCWTS Program

  • Holds the NCWTS records for most career wins (61), most wins in a single season (14 in 2014) and most Owner’s championships (five)

  • Erik Jones earned the organization its first-ever NCWTS Driver’s championship in 2015

  • Has collected 61 wins, 33 poles, 143 top-five and 230 top-10 finishes across 380 starts since originating in 2010

  • Nine different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 32. Erik Jones and William Byron each collected seven victories, Christopher Bell and Darrell Wallace Jr., both have five wins, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott each collected one triumph

  • With Bell’s victory at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway KBM has at least one win at all 21 tracks on the 2017 NCWTS schedule

KBM NCWTS @ Eldora Speedway

  • KBM drivers have collected two wins, one pole, 227 laps led, five top-five and six top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.5 across 11 starts at Eldora

  • KBM has won two events at the half-mile dirt oval; Christopher Bell led 106 of 154 laps en route to his first-career NCWTS victory in 2015 and Darrell Wallace Jr., led a race-high 97 laps en route to victory in the 2014 event

The Fugle File:

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle begins his fourth season as a crew chief at KBM and sixth overall with the organization.  The New York native has guided his team to an Owner’s championship in all three of his seasons (2013, 2015 & 2016) atop the pit box at KBM, including a combined Owner’s/Driver’s Championship with Erik Jones in 2015. His drivers have combined for 19 wins, 12 poles and 39 top-five finishes across his 78 races calling the shots for the organization. Under his tutelage last season, William Byron collected a Truck Series’ rookie record seven wins while leading the No. 9 Tundra team to KBM’s fourth consecutive and fifth overall Owner’s championship.

Fugle’s NCWTS drivers have posted one top-five finish and an average finish of 14.3 across three starts at Eldora. Erik Jones’s fourth-place finish in the 2015 event was the best result among Fugle’s wheelmen at the half-mile clay oval.

 

Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Tundra 2017 NCWTS Box Score:

 

Date
Site
Driver
Start
Finish
Laps
Laps Led
Status
Driver Pts./Pos.
2/24/17
Daytona
Bell
4
8
100/100
6
Running
33/9th
3/4/17
Atlanta
Bell
1
1
130/130
99
Running
93/1st
4/1/17
Martinsville
Bell
6
3
250/250
96
Running
136/2nd
5/12/17
Kansas
Bell
1
4
167/167
37
Running
187/2nd
5/19/17
Charlotte
Bell
1
3
134/134
2
Running
227/2nd
6/2/17
Dover
Bell
3
25
35/200
0
Accident
239/2nd
6/9/17
Texas
Bell
21
1
167/167
92
Running
298/2nd
6/17/17
Gateway
Bell
3
6
160/160
7
Running
342/2nd
6/23/17
Iowa
Bell
2
5
200/200
99
Running
391/2nd
7/6/17
Kentucky
Bell
2
1
150/150
54
Running
436/2nd

 

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

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