Christopher Bell Can Rest Easy At Talladega

Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell will be one of two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) playoff contenders that can sleep easy this week as the Round of 8 comes to a close and two drivers will be eliminated at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Bell, who has been atop the NCWTS championship standings for the last seven races, punched his ticket to the Round of 6 two races ago in the opening race of the playoffs at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and fellow Toyota competitor Ben Rhodes joined Bell in the “Sleep Easy Club” in the series’ last stop at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.

Bell boasts an average finish of 9.5 across his two prior starts at Talladega, but both have been very eventful.  Two years ago at Talladega, he made his superspeedway debut tackling the 2.66-mile tri-oval in just the fifth start of his Truck Series career. Following the advice of clinging to the yellow line along the inside lane of the track he managed to register an average running position of 9.7 and with four laps remaining found himself in the fourth position. A strong restart allowed the youngster to push Brandon Jones to the lead, but NASCAR ruled that he “engaged” the bumper of Jones’ truck and issued a pass-through penalty. Just before he was going to serve his penalty a multi-truck wreck brought out the caution, which forced him to restart in the 15th position at the tail end of the field for the green-white-checkered finish. Before the race ended under caution, the rookie driver was able to pick up two positions and left his superspeedway debut with a respectable 13th-place finish.

Last year at Talladega, while racing to advance to the next round of the inaugural Truck Series Chase, Bell experienced a broken shifter in the middle stages of the race and had to surrender his position inside the top 10 to hit pit road. Across the next three caution periods, his over-the-wall crew successfully unfastened his shifter lever and mounted a new one in his Tundra. After that problem was fixed, the Oklahoma native suffered minor cosmetic damage in a 15-truck accident with just over 30 laps remaining. The crew once again went to work fixing his Tundra and returned him to the track in the 16th position with 25 laps remaining. Bell had advanced to the seventh position for the final restart of the race and ended up moving up to sixth over the final two laps.

After two years of stress-filled races at Talladega, Bell already has his ticket punched to the Round of 6 and enters Saturday’s 94-lap event with a peaceful easy feelin’. When it’s all said and done, he hopes to be standing on the ground in victory lane.

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

How does it feel to be going into Talladega already having your ticket punched to the next round of the playoffs?

“Going into Talladega with a win already in this round of the playoffs is going to be nice because we can be aggressive and do everything we can to win the race and have no regrets over the course of the weekend. Other drivers that don’t have a win will have to race carefully and try and avoid the big wreck, so that should be a huge advantage for us. Our only goal this weekend is to win both stages and win the race so that we can collect some more bonus points before the next round of the playoffs starts at Martinsville in few weeks.”

What has been the key to being able to run up front at superspeedway races?

“The key for me being good at superspeedway races is that everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports always gives me a fast Tundra. I feel like we’ve been in a position to win races and it just hasn’t happened yet. Almost every superspeedway race that I’ve competed in so far, we’ve had a shot at the win and that’s all that you can ask for in these types of races. Now, I just need to capitalize on that shot. We need to make sure that we survive until the end of the race, so that we are in a position to win. I feel like I didn’t do that at Daytona earlier this year — I got myself in trouble and we didn’t have a shot to win at the end. It would be really cool to put our Toyota Tundra in victory lane Saturday and get my first superspeedway win.”

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

 

How does calling a race at a superspeedway compare to other tracks on the schedule?

“I think calling a race at a superspeedway is almost the same as it is at the other races. You are always thinking about what strategy you are going to play with having a shortage of tires — it’s not like racing in the Cup Series where you can pit for tires almost every time there is a caution. You are always trying to play ahead and have a pit strategy where you have just enough fuel to get to the end of the race. With Talladega being such a long track, obviously the fuel runs are shorter, so you have to react quicker.”

Christopher Bell’s No. 4 Toyota Tundra:

 

KBM-13: The No. 4 Toyota Racing team will unload KBM-13 for Saturday’s Fred’s 250 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It is the same Tundra that Bell led six laps with en route to an eighth-place finish in this year’s season-opening event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. William Byron finished 10th with this Toyota in last year’s race at Talladega.

KBM-13 Performance Profile:

 

Date

Site

Driver

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

2/24/2017

Daytona

Bell

4

8

100/100

6

Running

10/22/2016

Talladega

Byron

8

10

94/94

0

Running

2/19/2016

Daytona

Byron

13

13

100/100

0

Running

10/24/2015

Talladega

Jones

3

4

98/98

6

Running

2/20/2015

Daytona

Jones

7

2

100/100

0

Running

10/18/2014

Talladega

Jones

6

6

95/95

1

Running

2/21/2014

Daytona

Busch

7

1

100/100

25

Running

10/19/2013

Talladega

Coulter

9

27

79/94

1

Accident

2/24/2013

Daytona

Coulter

10

22

100/100

0

Running

 

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

18 of 18

5

12

16

3

2521

730

4.4

6

16

16

48

7

23

36

3

6776

1038

7.4

8.5

42

39

 

Christopher Bell’s NCWTS Talladega Superspeedway Performance Profile:

 

Date

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

10/22/16

14

6

94/94

0

Running

10/24/15

10

13

98/98

0

Running

 

Christopher Bell 2017 Highlights

  • Has posted five wins (Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon), three poles, 730 laps led, 12 top-five, 16 top-10 finishes resulting and an average finish of 6.0 across 18 races

  • Won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ first-ever regular season title and earned the No. 1 seed in the NCWTS Playoffs

  • With his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the opening race of the playoffs advanced to the Round of 6 that begins Oct. 28 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

  • Leads the NCWTS in wins (five), top-five finishes (12), top-10 finishes (16), driver rating (118.9), average starting position (4.4), average finish (6.0), average running position (6.1), laps led (730) and fastest laps run (350)

  • 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 collected one pole, 152 laps led, one top-five and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.2 across four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing

  • After restarting eighth with three laps to go, won the ARCA Racing Series event at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., (9/14/17) in his lone series start this season

  • In Midgets has eight victories; opened the 2017 season by winning his preliminary night and the feature at 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), won consecutive USAC National Midget events at Macon (Ill.) Speedway (7/1/17) and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway (7/2/17), the USAC National Midget event at Solomon Valley in Beloit, Kansas (8/3/17) and the Mike Phillips Memorial POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget event at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion, Ill. (9/16/17)

  • In Sprint Cars has four 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), the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (7/14/17) and the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car race at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio (10/7/17)

Christopher Bell 2016 NCWTS 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 

Notes of Interest:

 

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Tundra

  • The No. 4 Tundra has collected nine wins, eight poles, 32 top-five and 53 top-10 finishes across 64 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 (64), 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 64 wins, 35 poles, 152 top-five and 245 top-10 finishes across 405 starts since originating in 2010

  • Nine different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 33. Christopher Bell, Erik Jones and William Byron have each collected seven victories, Darrell Wallace Jr., has five wins, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott each collected one trophy

  • 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 @ Talladega Superspeedway

  • KBM drivers have collected one win, 27 laps led, two top-five and 10 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.1 across 16 starts at the 2.66-mile tri-oval

  • Owner-driver Kyle Busch collected KBM’s lone victory in the 2010 event when he finished 0.002 seconds ahead of Aric Almirola in the closest finish in Truck Series history since electronic scoring was instituted

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 21 wins, 12 poles and 44 top-five finishes across his 86 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 and three top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.0 across three starts at Talladega. His best result was a fourth-place finish with Erik Jones in the 2015 event.

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
7/19/17
Eldora
Bell
4
9
150/150
22
Running
471/2nd
7/29/17
Pocono
Bell
3
1
60/60
7
Running
528/1st
8/12/17
Michigan
Bell
13
2
100/100
0
Running
572/1st
8/16/17
Bristol
Bell
2
7
203/203
0
Running
615/1st
9/3/17
Canadian Tire
Bell
5
26
44/64
0
Engine
634/1st
9/15/17
Chicagoland
Bell
3
3
150/150
72
Running
2040/1st
9/23/17
New Hampshire
Bell
2
1
175/175
73
Running
2100/1st
9/30/17
Las Vegas
Bell
4
2
146/146
64
Running
2152/1st

 

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

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