Could Christopher Bell Become a Real Threat to Hendrick Motorsports Despite his Lackluster History at the Track?

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Months of piping hot metal, speeding machines, and burning rubbers have finally brought us to the ultimate race weekend! The 2023 NASCAR championship finale at Phoenix will give us the answer to the ever-important question: Who is the country’s quickest stock car racer? Without a doubt, we have the best 4 drivers of this year contending to get their name as the answer to that question. Among them is Joe Gibbs Racing’s unexpected entrant, Christopher Bell.
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Overtaking the team’s veterans Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr, the 28-year-old driver got his chance to race in Phoenix. But standing up against him in the finale are track aces, Kyle Larson and William Byron. Despite the looming threat and his own past inefficiency in the track, Bell certainly believes that he has a good chance against the competition.
Christopher Bell oozes confidence going to the most important race of the year
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Looking at the past, it might seem like Christopher Bell has made a habit of holding off his best performances until they mattered the most. Last season, he won the final race of the Round of 8 to fix himself a spot in the Championship 4. This year, he did so in a race earlier at Homestead-Miami. In last weekend’s Xfinity 500, he finished P7 and kept the building momentum going. Coincidence or not, the final weeks of a season are certainly a good time to find one’s form.
With a mere number of days remaining for the throttles to be floored, the #20 Toyota Camry driver could not be more optimistic. Bell said, as reported by speedsport.com, “We are going to have a rocket ship. I can’t wait to get out there.”
Toyotas have been amongst the fastest cars on the grid this year. But there have also been troubles equally, as evidenced by the woes of Martin Truex Jr. In Phoenix, Joe Gibbs Racing will need to learn to control their weaknesses in order to give their only driver the best shot. Troubling, that is not the only concern that Joe Gibbs’ outfit will have in the race.
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Bell’s past record in the track isn’t all that great, either. Of his last 5 appearances in the raceway, he has 4 top-10 finishes. But when stacked up against the numbers of his Hendrick Motorsports counterparts, it doesn’t amount to a lot.
Joe Gibbs Racing prepares for an underdog fight against Hendrick Motorsports
Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson are not new to each other’s driving prowess. Having once raced together for midget-team, Keith Kunz Motorsport, they now find themselves fighting it out at the highest level of racing. Noting the remarkability of his drivers’ ascend, the co-owner of the team, Keith Kunz said to NBC, “It would be like two elite basketball players coming from the same high school at the same time. We just felt that in our hearts that that day would come that they would go head-to-head for a championship”
Despite their uniform route, Larson has already achieved what Bell hasn’t. He has a Cup Series championship in his mantle and accompanying it, a win at Phoenix. Larson’s teammate, William Byron is by no means an easy catch either. He is the season’s most-winning driver with 6 victory lane visits in his bag. Additionally, both of Rick Hendrick’s drivers have averages at the Phoenix Raceway that trump Bell’s own.
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Against the odds that past numbers put up, the only factor of hope for the #20 team is that history will not matter in the upcoming race. The four drivers are completely aware of this, as reflected in Thursday’s media day. Larson said, “I don’t view us as having a leg up on the others because we have a championship at all. That was a couple of years ago, totally different race car, pit stops are different, restarts are different, the race is different. It’s all different. All of us have a fairly equal shot.”
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Continuing on, Bell pitched in, “We definitely have a good, respectful group that I guess doesn’t have any history of having wrecks or anything like that. So that’s good.” Thanks to the dynamics of the group, Sunday will hopefully provide a clean and interesting race. Joe Gibbs Racing’s #20 team will no doubt throw in all their weight to give Christopher Bell the best shot at victory against their foes at Hendrick Motorsports.

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