Christopher Bell set for XFINITY debut with Joe Gibbs Racing

Russell LaBounty/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Dirt track ace and NASCAR prospect Christopher Bell will get his first taste of the XFINITY Series (NXS) later this year in a seven-race stint with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).

Bell, 22, will make his NXS debut in JGR’s No. 18 Toyota in the May 27 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Norman, Oklahoma native will then pilot the No. 20 Toyota at Iowa Speedway (June 24) and Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 8) before returning to the No. 18 at Kansas Speedway (Oct. 21), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 4) and in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18).

“As a kid growing up in Oklahoma it’s always been a dream come true to be able to race in one of the NASCAR’s top series,” Bell said in a statement. “Over the past three years, Toyota has given me the opportunity to compete at the truck level with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Going to JGR is something I didn’t dream of as a kid because it wasn’t something I dreamed was a possibility. 

“Now, with this tremendous opportunity in front of me, it is obviously a dream come true. I couldn’t be happier than to be with the team I’m at. To be able to race seven races at JGR is something that every kid would love the opportunity to do. I’m very thankful for it and we’re going to go out here and try to make the most of it.”

Now in his third year with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, Bell is the latest prospect in a JGR talent pipeline that’s included Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookies Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez, as well as current NXS shoe Matt Tifft and former team drivers Darrell Wallace, Jr. and William Byron.

Bell has tallied a victory in each of his three years with KBM, earning his first win at Eldora Speedway in a seven-race 2015 stint and adding victories at Gateway Motorsports Park and Atlanta Motor Speedway in the past two seasons.

“Christopher has quickly made his mark in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and should be able to use that experience toward his debut in the NASCAR XFINITY Series,” Steve DeSouza, executive vice president of XFINITY and development for Joe Gibbs Racing said. “He has confidence and is eager to showcase his talents at Charlotte Motor Speedway and we are excited to see what he can do in the JGR Toyota’s for his seven races.”

The Oklahoman entered 2017 full of momentum, having gone to the Championship 4 last season and won the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals in his home state over the offseason. He currently sits third in the Truck series standings through three races.

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