By Jerry Jordan, Editor
TULSA, OK – As the checkered flag waves on 2020, hundreds of drivers have descended on Tulsa Oklahoma in hopes of taking home their own checkered flag – and a Golden Driller – in the Tulsa Shootout with one of those racers being NASCAR’s Christopher Bell.
Bell, a Norman, Oklahoma native, grew up just 122 miles down the road from what is the largest micro-sprint car race in the world. Every year, racers from across the country come to participate in the first official event of the new year. Bell is racing multiple entries and will return to Tulsa in two weeks for the Chili Bowl Nationals sprint car event.
“As you can tell there are a lot of racecars here, a lot of different drivers from kids in the kid’s division to adults and professional racers in the upper series,” Bell said. “It’s really cool. We’ve got four of the main divisions, you’ve got your stock non-winged and winged and then your open non-winged and winged. I am doing all four classes and I think there is a handful, or more than a handful, of drivers who will run all four of the main divisions, so yeah, you will see a lot of great racing.”
Bell had just finished racing a heat race for the Winged Outlaw division and he took the time while he waited for the Stock Winged heat races to speak with Kickin’ the Tires.
Although it is the off-season for NASCAR, Bell has been working with his new Cup Series team at Joe Gibbs Racing and had lots of praise for his new crew chief, Adam Stevens, who led Kyle Busch to two Cup Series Championships.
“It’s should be really good and I am really excited to team up with Adam Stevens and this new group of mechanics who came off the 18-car last year,” Bell said. “So, I think I have a great opportunity in front of me. I am very anxious to get going and hopefully make the most out of this year.”
A lifelong dirt racer, with a host of major wins under his belt, Bell proved himself worthy of a ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports’ truck program in 2015. He did well-enough there – amassing seven wins – to earn the seat of JGR’s No. 20 Xfinity Series entry in 2018 and 2019 where he finished the season fourth and third in points, respectively. The Toyota Racing driver takes over the seat of the No. 20 car previously driven by Erik Jones since 2017. Bell entered the Cup Series as part of Joe Gibbs Racing’s relationship with Leavine Family Racing (LFR), which announced in August that it was shutting down at the end of the season. The pairing of Bell with Stevens is expected to create another powerhouse team competing for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.