Did Christopher Bell accidentally confirm Martin Truex Jr.’s replacement?


Christopher Bell all-but gave away the successor to the retiring Martin Truex Jr. at Joe Gibbs Racing during a Friday media session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The two-time Championship 4 qualifier was being asked about leadership roles within the team as Truex retires and leaves the veteran Denny Hamlin with an expected trio of young drivers. Bell and Ty Gibbs are already confirmed to be returning. The rumored replacement for Truex has been Chase Briscoe.

He started off with an expected answer.

“That is a good question, and honestly, I don’t really know if there is any leadership from the driver’s standpoint,” Bell said. “Certainly, from when we get into our competition meetings, the more guys with experience will, I guess, take the role of steering the ship as far as what we need in the race cars and stuff like that.


“I have definitely grown in confidence telling the team what we need inside of our cars, with experience, but week-in and week-out, a different guy may lead the discussion. Every time we go into our Monday meetings, it could be whoever has a good race that week. Plenty of times it has been Ty, plenty of times it has been Martin or me or Denny. I don’t think there really is a leadership role in that aspect.

“And whenever Chase comes into the car. …”

Bell knew as soon as he said it that he’d made a mistake. He pulled the microphone away from his face, looked away and smiled.

“Whenever some… Whenever… I don’t even know what to say.”

There are two Chases in the Cup Series – something Kyle Larson used to poke fun at teammate Chase Elliott after the flub. But Briscoe is the obvious candidate, with Elliott locked in for the long-term at Hendrick Motorsports.


Briscoe is currently in search of a new ride after Stewart-Haas Racing announced the impending closure of its four-car operation. Three of the teams four charters are expected to be sold, with one already pledged to Front Row Motorsports. The fourth will be used for a slimmed-down operation ran by current co-owner Gene Haas, referred to as Haas Factory Team.

Truex announced his intention to retire from full-time Cup competition at the end of the season on June 14 at Iowa Speedway. The 2017 Cup champion’s mulled over the idea for each of the past three seasons.

His impending exit leaves an opening for one of NASCAR’s most valuable, competitive rides.

Thanks to Bell, we now know who’s likely to fill it.

Story originally appeared on Racer