Christopher Bell won’t be lounging around on the first of two off weekends for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The 24-year-old Norman, Okla.-racer will partner again with Kevin Swindell for the World of Outlaws #LetsRaceTwo at Eldora Speedway on Friday and Saturday nights. Bell will pilot the No. 39 Swindell SpeedLab ride for the 'Mother of All Sprint Car Races' on the half-mile dirt track outside of Rossburg, Ohio.
Considering the success Bell has enjoyed at the Big E, there’s no place he’d rather spend his vacation.
“I’m going to Eldora—my favorite track in the world,” Bell told RacinBoys.com. “It’s just a real fast race track,and it just fits my driving style. I feel I have a good handle on it.
“It’s really fast, really slick. I just love it.”
Bell has a history of winning in whatever vehicle he races, and his record at Eldora is no different. Midget? Check. Silver Crown car? Check. Sprint Car? Check. NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck? Check.
Still, he remains humble through it all—even about his chances with the WoO this weekend.
“It’s going to be difficult to win the race,” said Bell, who won his second WoO feature at Eldora in October. “Outlaw races are very, very hard to win. We were really, really close in Florida (Volusia Speedway Park in February), so that’s really cool. And Eldora is probably one of my best tracks on the sprint car side.
“I feel like we have a really good shot, but Kevin’s car is going to be different from anything I’ve ever driven there, so hopefully we can get me comfortable in it.”
Bell has found magic with Swindell this season. Together, they have teamed for three top-five and four top-10 finishes in five starts. The opportunity is not lost on Swindell either.
“We’ve run well in our few starts this season,” Swindell said. “We’re looking forward to two nights at one of the most fun race tracks.”
As much as Bell loves playing in the dirt, he would just as soon keep his NASCAR Xfinity Series program rolling—especially coming off of his third win of the season last Saturday at Dover International Speedway. This time last year, Bell had scored just one of the seven Xfinity victories he would earn in 2018.
Bell fell just short of the title after finishing fourth in the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. Although he’s second in the NXS standings, Bell doesn’t feel as if he’s the favorite to win the championship. He believes that honor goes to defending champion Tyler Reddick, who toppled his fellow contenders at Homestead. But Bell’s not giving up hope.
Between now and November, Bell knows there are a few weaknesses the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team mush clean up before making a decisive run at the title.
“Just finishing races, that’s kind of been my downfall every season,” Bell said. “Ultimately, if I can win races more than I crash out then I’m happy with that. I just have to continue to get better at finishing races and not taking myself out of them. And continue to win.”
Winning has not been an issue for Bell, compared with his competition in both Xfinity and trucks. But the team endured a rash of bad luck throughout the 2018 season. Still, the driver accepted the blame for a lack of execution.
“At Kansas, (Justin) Allgaier crashed,” Bell said. “If I would have gotten a better restart, then I wouldn’t have been beside Allgaier. At Texas, Austin Cindric wrecked me again, for the fifth time. If I would have had a better restart then I wouldn’t have been beside Austin Cindric. Just a couple things like that and same thing at Vegas this year. Tyler Reddick got loose underneath me and crashed. Was that my fault? No, not at all, but if I wouldn’t have ran into the wall after I passed Kyle (Busch), then I probably am not racing Tyler Reddick on the restart.
“Just stuff like that, looking back at just moments where I could have changed the outcome and not put myself in positions to get wrecked.”
Bell’s focus remains on NASCAR—which ultimately subsidizes his extracurricular racing. Running part-time in open wheel is detrimental to consistent dirt results, but it beats the alternative—not racing at all.
“I would rather race all the time, so I’m going to go race no matter what,” Bell said. “I’m going to go race whether we’re racing in NASCAR or not.”