Count ‘em. Two big wins in the first three races of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs is a great way for 24-year old Christopher Bell to become the budding favorite in this season’s championship run.
The Joe Gibbs Racing standout from Oklahoma has not only hustled his way into the series standings lead but has etched his name in the history books. Bell’s six wins this season is now the all-time Xfinity Series record for wins by a Sunoco rookie, passing previous rookie record holders Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards (with five wins each).
“Since our win at Richmond, the only thing we have been going for is race wins and stage wins. That’s all that matters,” said Christopher Bell following his second Playoff win of the postseason.
Bell’s unrelenting grip on this season’s Playoffs has been apparent. He kicked the door down on the postseason with a win at Richmond Raceway, finished fifth in the debut of the Charlotte Road Course and followed all of that up with another victory last weekend at Dover International Speedway. Now heading into the Round of 8 with the standings reset, Bell has 3,044 points, five up on second place Justin Allgaier and 33-points up on fifth place Elliott Sadler – the first spot outside the Championship 4.
Despite the early Playoff success, Bell’s not buying the hype. His focus to see this title chase to the end is clear.
“It all boils down to one run at Homestead-Miami to decide who the champion is,” said Bell. “So, I don’t think anyone is the clear-cut favorite, and we won’t know that till about lap 100 in Homestead-Miami.”
Bell’s rookie campaign has been guided by the expertise of veteran crew chief Jason Ratcliff and the duo have managed six wins (Richmond-1, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Iowa-1, Richmond-2, Dover-2), 17 top-fives, 19 top-tens, and four poles this season. But Bell has turned it up even more through the three races in this first round of the Playoffs with two wins, three top-fives and an average finish of 2.333. In total, he has accumulated 44 Playoff points this season, and 12 of them he scored in the first round of Playoffs.
“To be able to win two out of the three in this round is really cool, and we have added to our bonus points going into the next round,” said Bell. “It would be really nice if we could win Kansas and go on the offensive again the entire next round.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and the rest of the NASCAR Xfinity Series will return to action next week at Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday, October 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.