Toyota Racing – Christopher Bell
NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day Quotes
RICHMOND (September 19, 2019) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell was made available to media at NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day:
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Would Kyle Busch make the ‘A-Main’ at the Chili Bowl?
“That’s a great question. Would Kyle Busch make the ‘A-Main’ at the Chili Bowl? If he got seat time, absolutely.”
What will the next seven r aces mean for your career?
“There’s been nobody that’s won all three championships. I don’t think there’s been anybody that’s won all three championships yet so that would be a really good goal. It starts with these seven races.”
Do you focus more on accomplishments that no one else has done?
“Absolutely. That’s been one of my goals ever since I was a kid. I wanted to set record, break records. I love getting track records whenever we qualify. To be able to be the first driver to have three championships would be really, really – that would be a pretty cool record to have.”
Do you view this as your last chance to get an Xfinity Series championship?
“No, no I don’t. It’s a very good opportunity and I’m not sure I will have another opportunity that’s this good so I want to try to capitalize and make the most of it.”
Did Tyler Reddick surprise you at Homestead last year?
“Not at all. Just because he was really good at those style race tracks last year. You look back and he struggled all year long, but whenever you went to California he was really good and that’s a really slick, abrasive race track. Chicago he was good before he crashed. Darlington he was good. Just the Homestead’ish’ style race tracks, he was good all year long. Then he put it together for Homestead.”
Is there anyone that could be an underdog and win in Homestead this year?
“I’ve said it all year long, (Justin) Allgaier is probably the guy that is most capable of it just because he has the experience and he’s been around the longest. He knows how to win races and whenever they get going, I think he’ll be the guy.”
Do you study what the other drivers do as much as you study what you do on track?
“Sometime. You just got back over and watch previous races. Obviously, you go back and sometimes I was the best car and sometimes other guys were the best cars and you just try to study what made them so good. Could they really run the bottom good? Were they good on long runs? Were they good on short run? How the restarts played out. Stuff like that. You find yourself just studying the races and the different drivers in the races.”
What is your relationship on the track and away from the track with Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick?
“I’m not going to say we’re friends, but I think we all three respect each other and I think that’s really cool. We race each other with respect and we respect each other outside the cars.”
Do the three of you bring out the best in each other?
“Yeah, I do. We race each other hard and it seems like each of us have our moments at times so that’s pretty good.”
What did it mean for Tyler Reddick to compliment your driving after the Indianapolis incident?
“I think it just goes back to respect. I hope Tyler (Reddick) would have said that because if the roles were reversed, the same outcome was very likely just because that was a very key moment in the race and we knew that whoever would come out with the lead was going to be hard to beat. If the roles were reversed, I put it on his door and we probably crash the same way. There’s no hard feelings there. There’s nothing there.”
Is it rare to have such a unique relationship of respect with your competitors?
“So for me, it’s been pretty common throughout the course of my career. In my USAC days, Bryan Clauson was the guy. He was my top competitor and same thing, I’m not going to say we were friends, but we had a good relationship outside the car and we really respected each other and raced each other clean. Rico (Abreu) is another guy, we race each other really hard, but we respect each other. I don’t know, it’s been fairly normal over the course of my career.”
What would be bigger in your career – winning all three NASCAR championships or winning a fourth consecutive Chili Bowl?
“You put me on the spot there. Only one guy has won four straight Chili Bowls. Nobody has won three NASCAR championships. The fourth Chili Bowl is a lot closer, that’s for sure. That’s number one – that’s number two right now because number one is the Xfinity Series championship.”
There has been a couple people who have come in that have said that they just want to be the fourth guy in at Homestead, because they assume that you, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer will be there. Do you feel that way?
“Well, we definitely have the advantage, but last year was a rude awakening. I was in a very similar spot last year. We snuck through the first round really easy. I won Richmond and locked myself into the second round. We ran top-five at the Roval and won at Dover, so we were on top of the world. Then all of a sudden we go to Kansas and crash. Ok, we are not that bad. I think we right on the bubble at Kansas. We go to Texas and we crash, and then the next thing you know you have to win at Phoenix to be able to race for a championship. It happens fast. You get on the other side of it very, very fast.”
Do you think people will be pressuring you in these Playoffs to try to get you to make mistakes?
“My response to that would be that the reason that we were in must win situation wasn’t because of mistakes; it was just because of racing circumstances. Ultimately, it wasn’t mistakes that put us in a must win situation. It’s tough to stay out of that and be ready to tackle it if it happens.”
Do you think that these other teams are going to put you in situations to mess up?
“I don’t think so. If you are a guy on the outside looking in, for me, I would be trying to win races. The bonus points that we have right now are really big. It’s going to be really hard to outpoint us, but if somebody outside the big three wins in the second round, then all of a sudden that bubble spot becomes a lot more relevant and especially if two people win, then one of us are out. People underneath us winning races is a really big deal and it really affects us.I think that is a big focus point.”
You came over from the dirt background. What was it like to experience NASCAR driver introductions?
“That was one thing that I thought was really, really cool about NASCAR. I still get nervous before the races and NASCAR does a great job of making every race an event. On the dirt side of things, you have few events and a lot of races. Where on the NASCAR side, every race you go to is hyped up – it’s an event. That was very surprising to me and I thought that was very cool. Driver introductions, every race is treated the same and every race is an event. It’s not like you have three marquee events and the rest are races.”
Do you chat with other drivers during driver introductions?
“I’m not much of a chatter, so I try to keep to myself.”
Do you think Placerville will be an event?
“It should be. They are putting up the money for it to be, so it should be. I hope I’m not there.”
Really, why is that?
“I want to be celebrating in Orlando. If you win the championship, you have to go to Orlando for the championship tour, which is on top of Placerville. So if I win the championship, I will not be able to race.”
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