Bell ‘disappointed’ in first part of his NASCAR season
Christopher Bell has sat in the top two in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings for the last six weeks, the first such streak in his career. But the driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 has a different take on his season to date.
“Honestly, (I’ve been) a little bit disappointed,” Bell said. “I feel like we have speed and have the potential to do really good things, but we’re not able to capitalize on it. There’s a couple of details that we have to get ironed out before we’re really going to be competing for wins and stage wins and leading laps.”
Bell is one of nine different winners through 13 races. He went to victory lane on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway, a race he led 100 laps in.
“I just think we have a lot more potential than what we’re showing,” Bell reiterated. “The laps led is not ideal, and I have zero stage wins.”
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Although the box score shows that Bell has led in eight different races for a total of 158 laps, in five of those races, he led six or fewer laps. The other three were 20 laps led in the Daytona 500 (he finished third), 26 laps led at Richmond Raceway (he finished fourth), and the final 100 laps led he led en route to winning Bristol.
Not having a stage win means no additional playoff points. The only five playoff points Bell does have are courtesy of his win.
“I think our potential is a lot higher than what we’re showing right now,” he said. “We just have a few details that we have to get figured out before we’re really going to be showing our true potential.”
Performing to the standard they’re aiming at is “right in the palm of our hands,” said Bell. He does lead the series in top-10 finishes (eight).
It is year four for Bell in the Cup Series, but his third driving Joe Gibbs Racing. Expectations have grown over the years, and after Bell won multiple races in 2022 and made it to the finale with a shot at the championship, he hoped it would the beginning of the No. 20 doing great things.
So, when Bell expressed disappointment about his season, he was pressed about whether that was an extension of not being satisfied anymore when others might be in his situation.
“I feel like if other guys were in my shoes,” said Bell, “they’d be saying the same thing.”
While the work continues internally, Bell and his team have an opportunity to win the regular season championship. Being the championship point leader after the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway in late August brings a reward of 15 playoff points.
Bell said there haven’t been outward discussions or focus on the regular season, but “that is obviously the goal and definitely something we have circled and trying to shoot for. We’re just trying to keep on keeping on.”