JOLIET, Ill – We all knew that Christopher Bell would remain in the Toyota came for next season and the foreseeable future. See, the Toyota execs said earlier this season that Bell wasn’t getting away.
Rumors starting swirling that Stewart-Haas Racing or other teams would be interested in Bell to drive for them in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 2020. Toyota shot down those rumors pretty quickly in that they weren’t letting him go.
Bell, 24 has been a Toyota developmental driver for a majority of his career. It started in USAC which helped him grow to a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Bell, spent two full time seasons in the Truck Series and won seven times in 54 career races. He also has 26 top five finishes, 41 top 10’s and six poles in his time in the Truck Series.
That led to a promotion with Joe Gibbs Racing to the XFINITY Series. Bell, made eight starts in 2017 including a win at Kansas that fall. He had five top 10 finishes in those seven starts. In 2018, he was full-time. Bell, won seven times in 33 tries to go along with 18 top five finishes, 20 top 10’s and five poles.
2019 is his second year in the series as he has four wins already this season to goa long with eight top fives and nine top 10’s. Combined, that’s 12 wins, 29 top fives, 34 top 10’s and nine poles in 55 starts.
That’s why Bell said on Friday from the Chicagoland Speedway that he has agreed to a one year extension with JGR for 2020. The only problem is, where does he go?
“It’s a little bit too early,” Bell, 24, said when asked if he would be running another season in the XFINITY Series or moving up to the Cup Series. “It’s really good that I have a job. Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing is where I want to be at,” he said. “I’m thankful that I get to go for another year.”
With how good Bell has been in the Trucks and XFINITY Series, it’s time for him to move up. He spent two years in Trucks and two years now in NXS. A Cup seat for 2020 should be on the horizon with JGR. The only problem with that is, JGR has no room for him to move up.
JGR fields the maximum amount of entries with Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones. Busch and Hamlin have signed contract extensions recently while Truex is in the first season of a multi year contract.
Jones, is a free agent but he says he’s close to an extension too. If he returns, then Bell can’t race for JGR on the Cup level in 2020. That leaves his only options of joining a satellite team (Leavine Family Racing) or returning to NXS.
But, with how well Bell is doing in NXS and the fact that a seat may not even be open for 2021 with JGR, why not go to LFR?
It would be a similar situation to what Jones did in 2017 with Furniture Row Racing.
“You look at the results and all four of their drivers are doing exactly what they need to do. I don’t feel like any of their drivers feel like they’re on the hot seat at all,” Bell said. “Obviously, me looking in, there’s not really a hole for me yet.
“I don’t know where I’m going to be.”