Christopher Bell’s future is a hot discussed item in the NASCAR world as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is showing to have the talent that it takes to be a star on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level. Unfortunately, the inn is full with JGR in the Cup Series. The only other alternative would be to house him with Furniture Row Racing for a year like they did with Erik Jones in 2017, but FRR has since scaled back to a single car operation and just found out that they’ve lost a big sponsor in 5-Hour Energy. Would they really take on a second driver under those circumstances?
So, it appears that Bell returning to JGR in his No. 20 Toyota in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for a second straight year makes the most sense.
Bell, said on Friday at Watkins Glen that coming back to the team in the XFINITY Series for next season does indeed make the most sense and that it appears that’s the direction that they’re currently going in. While he would love a Cup ride and to honestly compete full-time in both series’ next year, he just doesn’t get the feeling that a Cup option is in the cards for 2019.
Bell, 23, only made eight XFINITY Series starts last season, reaching victory lane in just his fifth start at Kansas. After competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for two years (2016 and 2017) he won seven times and had 41 top 10 finishes to go along with a championship last year. That allowed his growth to promote him to a XFINITY Series ride for this season.
So far this year, he’s already won four times including each of the last three weeks. He’s getting better and better and on course for a Cup ride. I mean he beat Kyle Busch at Kentucky and Brad Keselowski at New Hampshire. He’s beating the top drivers in the Cup Series already. If not for JGR being maxed out on the Cup side, he’d already have a deal in place to move up, but with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones already signed on for with the team for next year and NASCAR have a four team cap for each organization, there’s no where for him to go.
The same situation could have arised for William Byron but Hendrick Motorsports whisked him away prior to the 2017 season. Toyota also lost Kyle Larson to Chevrolet and Chip Ganassi Racing. They’ve made it clear, they’re not losing Bell. The problem is, where do they put him?
Bell said on Friday he will be back in the XFINITY Series for 2019 but what about 2020? That’s where things will get really interesting. He’s only made 81 starts in NASCAR but the skill set is there to compete. In this new trend of racing these days, NASCAR is transitioning to drivers moving up quickly. Bell also said that he doesn’t want to waste years of his prime in a feeder series but also on the flip side understands the situation.
Toyota is the big key here to this equation.