Christopher Bell Looking To Continue Moving Through NASCAR Playoffs

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

Coming off a strong day at the NASCAR Playoff Opener at Darlington Raceway with a fifth-place finish, Christopher Bell is looking forward to the action at Kansas Speedway as he enters the second race of the playoffs sitting comfortably in fourth – well above next week’s cutoff spot.

Christopher Bell On Darlington Finish

“Just an important race for us,” Bell said. “We performed well at Darlington and got ourselves in a nice points position. Hopefully, we can execute this weekend and capitalize on some more points and be able to breathe easy going into Bristol.”

In fact, barring a disastrous finish in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, Bell will head to the cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway just looking to make it through safely and move to Round 2 of the playoffs. Bell believes the action at Bristol will be intense, not just because it is a cutoff race but because it will be the second time the new NextGen Cup Series car has been on the track there. That, he said, combined with being part of a Goodyear tire test at the track, should be a benefit for him and his team.

“I expect Bristol to be a really big momentum racetrack with these cars,” Bell said. “I did get to do the tire test about a year ago. What I learned is this is a very big momentum car and not much acceleration or deceleration either. I expect the top to be fast under those conditions and I think that lapped traffic is going to play a really big role in the race like it always does. I would expect the top to be very dominant at the Bristol race.”

It’s Bell’s second time in the playoffs but this time around, he comes in with less pressure and another year of working with crew chief, Adam Stevens. He said, he is even more confident and is well-aware of the fact that he has the least drama surrounding him of any of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers.

“So, I don’t really think my being a second year versus a first-year really has an effect on my outlook, but just my performance over the regular season this year definitely makes me feel more comfortable in my position than I was a year ago at this time. Last year, I didn’t feel like we performed like a team capable of racing for a championship and this year I feel like we’re able to do that. It makes me more confident in what we’ve got going on.

“It’s exactly how I like it for sure. It’s nice to be able to focus on the task at hand and not have a bunch of distractions floating around. Hopefully, we can keep it that way.”

So, is Bell the sleeper of the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs? He isn’t worried about it.

“I don’t really think that’s for me to decide,” Bell said. “In my head, I know where I think I rank up. Just trying to showcase what we’re capable of on the racetrack.”

Bell will roll off the grin, on Sunday, from the fourth starting spot after posting a qualifying speed of 179.659 mph. He is also all but assured TV time as his pit stall is one spot away from the NBC Pit Box.

Hollywood Casino 400 Starting Lineup:
Pos Vehicle Driver Team Time Speed
1 8 Tyler Reddick (P) Guaranteed Rate Chevrolet 29.899 180.608
2 22 Joey Logano (P) Shell Pennzoil Ford 29.936 180.385
3 48 Alex Bowman (P) Ally Chevrolet 29.964 180.216
4 20 Christopher Bell (P) DeWalt Toyota 30.057 179.659
5 1 Ross Chastain (P) Advent Health Chevrolet 30.066 179.605
6 45 Bubba Wallace (P) ROOT Insurance Toyota 30.124 179.259
7 5 Kyle Larson (P) Chevrolet 30.142 179.152
8 2 Austin Cindric # (P) Snap on Ford 30.158 179.057
9 24 William Byron (P) Liberty University Chevrolet 30.18 178.926
10 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford 30.266 178.418
11 3 Austin Dillon (P) Get Bioethanol Chevrolet 30.051 179.695
12 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Red White Blue Toyota 30.105 179.372
13 14 Chase Briscoe (P) Magical Vacation Planner Ford 30.129 179.229
14 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Rheem Ford 30.177 178.944
15 99 Daniel Suarez (P) CommScope Chevrolet 30.2 178.808
16 23 Ty Gibbs(i) McDonald’s Toyota 30.362 177.854
17 12 Ryan Blaney (P) Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford 30.396 177.655
18 21 Harrison Burton # Menards/MasterForce Ford 30.419 177.521
19 7 Corey LaJoie Circle B Diecast Chevrolet 30.434 177.433
20 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M’s Toyota 30.479 177.171
21 42 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 30.493 177.09
22 9 Chase Elliott (P) NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 30.517 176.951
23 34 Michael McDowell WISE-EV Ford 30.576 176.609
24 43 Erik Jones Chevrolet 30.63 176.298
25 11 Denny Hamlin (P) Acumatica Toyota 30.633 176.28
26 6 Brad Keselowski Solomon Plumbing Ford 30.645 176.211
27 31 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 30.658 176.137
28 16 Noah Gragson(i) Cure Token Chevrolet 30.673 176.051
29 41 Cole Custer Ford 30.745 175.638
30 51 Cody Ware Nurtec ODT Ford 30.885 174.842
31 77 Landon Cassill(i) Voyager: Crypto for All Chevrolet 30.901 174.752
32 38 Todd Gilliland # CITGARD Ford 30.913 174.684
33 15 JJ Yeley(i) RWR Ford 31.064 173.835
34 78 BJ McLeod(i) Circle B Diecast Ford 31.528 171.276
35 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Chevrolet 31.906 169.247
36 10 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 0 0
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