Toyota Racing – Christopher Bell
NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
Dover International Speedway – May 3, 2019
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell was made available to the media in Dover:
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Have you experienced anything like Dover?
“The first time would have been the 2016 Truck race. It is very unique. There is not a race track out here like it. The way the transitions are from the straightaways to the corners, how narrow it is; it is a unique beast that is for sure.”
Doesn’t a real racer like you find it intriguing?
“Yeah, it is a lot of fun. It is one of my favorite race tracks we go to because it is a really fast short track. You get to hustle it. It is a mile in length, so it is not a mile and a half, but it has mile and a half speed. It is a ton of fun, and it’s a place where with Xfinity cars with the package they have you can get around them.”
Talk about qualifying.
“That is going to be a change of pace for sure. I really enjoyed the group qualifying, because I felt like it added another element. It gave you a chance to work on your car. I always loved when I could go out there and be 15th and then eighth, and then the last round steal the pole. That was something that our team had gotten really good at. Now we are just going to have a change of pace and be quickest right off the bat.
What about the composite body?
“I love them. Especially for downforce racing. You can get away with stuff a lot more like brushing up against the fence, or stuff like that. I think the composite bodies have been a huge gain in the Xfinity Series.”
When we talk about racing here at Dover, there are many descriptions of it. Diving off a cliff, a roller coaster; how would you describe it?
“It is just really fast: a mile length race track with mile and a half speeds is the best way I can describe it. I love speed and I love short tracks, so its kind of the best of both worlds.”
Does 200 laps here feel fast or long?
“I’ll be honest, it probably feels longer than it should. 200 laps is relatively a short race. It definitely does not feel short for some reason and looking at the Cup race. 400 laps; holy moly right? So ya, 200 laps should feel short, but it doesn’t for me.”
Is this a race track you enjoy?
“Dover is fun man, it’s a place — it’s a mile in length, but you have mile-and-a-half speed. It’s really, really fast and there’s not another race track out there like it. This place is the same size as Loudon, but the speeds are almost twice as much. It really is unique.”
What did you learn from last week’s race at Talladega?
“I learned that if I’m ever going to win a speedway race, I have to get a lot better at blocking. But I knew that going into too. Just keep making gains on it every time and it’s a lot easier to come from the back to the front than it is to be in the front and stay in the front at speedways.”
What do you think about single car qualifying?
“I personally enjoyed the group qualifying just because I really enjoyed the fact of using strategy to think your way through the qualifying session. Some race tracks you can go out there and run multiple laps and use strategy like that – only using one lap at the beginning or the first couple rounds and then two or three at the end. I enjoyed the strategy aspect of the group qualifying, but it’s the same for everybody.”
How would you rank the pit road here at Dover?
“I’ve heard everybody talk about green flag stops being really tough here, but unfortunately or fortunately I’ve never done that so I can’t really speak to that.”
Does it worry you that you’ve never experienced at green flag pit stop here?
“I guess that’s another product of 200 lap races, I think we can almost do 80 or 90 laps on fuel so the odds of us doing a green flag stop are very, very slim. Obviously in practice we’ll still practice it and try to get better at it. I don’t foresee that happening.”
Would you prefer not to have two weekends off?
“It doesn’t matter to me. I would rather race all the time, but other people wouldn’t so I’m going to go race no matter what. I’m going to go race whether we’re racing in NASCAR or not.”
How difficult is it to go dirt racing when you’re not racing there every week anymore?
“I definitely struggle and that’s one thing that I’ve noticed. I went to Jacksonville, Illinois last week and I go out there to qualify and I can just tell that I’m not as good at it as I used to be back when I did it full time. I hope I get to continue to run dirt stuff so that I can continue to keep my skill set sharp with it. I can definitely tell that it’s fallen off a little from where it used to be.”
How would you compare your second season in NXS versus your second year in NGOTS?
“I don’t know, I think my first year in Xfinity was greatly ahead of my first year in trucks. Our situation it seemed like, that first year in trucks it seemed like it was Team 4 versus Team 9 and we were really competitive against each other rather than working together as a team to better each other. That first year in trucks is really hard to relate to anything because I’ve never been put in that situation again. Year two in Xfinity seems to be right on par with year two in the trucks.”
Do you have a set number of races you want to win this year?
“No, I just want to be a winner. I’ve won two and I’m not happy with that so if I win four, am I going to be happy? I don’t know. I don’t have a number in my mind, I just want to be a winner.”
Are you the championship favorite right now?
“No, championship favorite is who is good at Homestead. Tyler Reddick is really good at Homestead so he’s got to be the championship favorite. Ultimately it just comes down to who has the best race at Homestead.”
Do you feel like you struggle at Homestead?
“It definitely hasn’t been my best race track, but the year I won the championship, I was really, really fast at Homestead so it gives me hope that I can do it.”
Do you feel better about your chances at Phoenix when the championship moves there in 2020?
“Statistically, I have a lot better stats at Phoenix than I do Homestead. Homestead is a great race track and it’s one of my favorites that we go to. I love Homestead and I think that’s a great place to have the final four and Phoenix is a better race track for me so I’m not going to say that I don’t wish it would go to Phoenix because that will probably better me, but I want to be good at Homestead too.”
Can you identify any weaknesses right now with the 20 car before you get to the Playoffs?
“Just finishing races, that’s kind of been my downfall every season. 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.”
Are there ways the craziness from last year with Justin Allgaier can be avoided?
“It all boils down – at Kansas, (Justin) Allgaier crashed. 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.”