The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Season Ended All Reservations Against the Joe Gibbs Racing’s Under the Radar Star


Joe Gibbs Racing has never lacked stars. Led by the indomitable NASCAR and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, the team has entered NASCAR as a title contender since time immemorial. Coach Gibbs has raised an empire of racing from champions to Rookie of the Year awardees. However, in 2018, a promising prospect came into its hands. It was Christopher Bell, who was ‘not in the plan’.
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The latest NASCAR show on Netflix, ‘NASCAR: Full Speed,’ has taken the fans into the thick of a driver’s struggles. Being a part of the glamorous driver cast, Christopher Bell has also had his share of the spotlight in the show. In the fourth 45-minute docu-series episode, the Netflix host confirms the title of the episode and Christopher Bell’s surge in 2023, which was, ‘Not in the Plan.’
Christopher Bell has been the JGR hero from the shadows
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Before the end of 2023, only a few considered the 29-year-old a genuine threat to the Cup Series championship. Despite racing for the championship at Phoenix in 2022, many were convinced it was a one-off incident. Many people have easily forgotten his heroics in the 2022 playoffs. He recorded clutch victories in the final races of the Round of 12 and Round of 8 at Charlotte and Martinsville to power his way through to a debut championship four race.
In the 2023 NASCAR playoffs, he improved his performance by a notch. Christopher Bell started on the pole for four playoff races, including the first three post-season races. However, he failed to cross the checkered line first in any of the main events. In the Round of 16, Denny Hamlin‘s performances took the limelight away from Bell’s monstrous qualifying attempts.
In one of NASCAR: Full Speed’s fourth episode moments, Christopher Bell revealed, “I wanna be known for winning races.“ Coming into the first race of Round of 8 at Las Vegas, Bell was the pole-sitter once again. However, the end of the Las Vegas race convinced the community about Bell’s claim as a serious challenger for the title.
Kyle Larson won the race by inches, with Bell hot on his heels. A dejected Bell left the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a P2 finish but, more importantly, redemption on his mind. Bell brushed off an incredible challenge from Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, and William Byron the following week to win at Homestead-Miami. The win was a statement of intent from the #20 Toyota driver.
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Bell proceeded to the season finale at Phoenix with the championship in sight. But after a cruel twist of fate, Bell’s brake rotor exploded, forcing him to retire from the biggest race of his career to date. If one looks closely enough, one might notice a pattern there. Despite Bell’s raw pace, he has lacked the consistency and the finesse to execute a win more than often.
Bell is missing one thing from his Cup Series arsenal
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In 2023, Christopher Bell started a race from the pole seven times. When we compare it to the two wins in the season, it is a meager return for the pace his car possesses. Bell is often troubled by mechanical issues or a lack of composure in races. At times, his opponents caught him off guard, costing him valuable spots on the grid. More commonly, he has made avoidable mistakes that cost him a win.
His biggest challenge will be to improve his execution. A temperament change could work. Having faced frustration for two seasons in a row, Christopher Bell might have proven his credentials as a contender but not as a champion. His teammate, Denny Hamlin, has suffered from a similar fate. Having won 51 Cup Series races but not a championship, his career is an example of grave misfortune.
“I haven’t won enough to be that guy yet. One day, I will.” This is what Bell said on NASCAR: Full Speed.
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It is good to see that Bell understands the work needed to get there. With his exposure and talent, it is only a matter of time before he lands a championship trophy.


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