Christopher Bell and the No. 4 JBL Tundra team head to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250. While it will be Bell's first-career start at the .526-mile oval, he'll have a crew chief, Jerry Baxter, who has won there twice and a chassis, KBM-007, that has been to victory lane there three times.
Baxter's two wins in the Truck Series at Martinsville both came with Darrell Wallace Jr. In October of 2013 under Baxter's guidance, Wallace Jr. became the first African-American driver to win a Truck Series event and the first African-American to win a NASCAR national touring series event since Wendell Scott won in the premier division in 1963. Wallace Jr. made it back-to-back victories in the fall race at the Virginia track in 2014, starting from the pole and leading 97 of 200 laps.
Both of Wallace Jr.'s victories at Martinsville came with chassis KBM-007. "007" has totaled eight trips to victory lane in 23 starts since debuting with a win with owner-driver Kyle Busch at Phoenix (Ariz.) in February of 2011 and is tied with chassis KBM-021 for the most victories of any truck in the team's fleet. In addition to Wallace Jr.'s two wins at the Virginia track with the Tundra, Denny Hamlin drove it to victory lane in October of 2011.
Although he spent a month "off the clock" from Truck Series action, Bell found opportunities to keep his racing skills sharp. The Oklahoma native went to the Rattler 250 Super Late Model race at South Alabama Speedway in Kinston two weekends ago, where his bid for back-to-back victories in the prestigious event came up one spot short after producing a runner-up finish. Last weekend, the 21-year-old wheelman headed to Ohio where he was scheduled to participate in two Sprint Car events. After getting washed out at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park on Friday night, he moved onto Atomic Speedway in Chillicothe, Ohio Saturday night where he was victorious in the inaugural Ohio Sprint Car Series event.
With momentum from two strong runs outside of Truck Series action, Bell heads to Martinsville looking to hit the reset button and put behind him two disappointing finishes to start the season. While he ranks second in laps led (42) and third in average running position (9.239), misfortunes at the end of both races have left him sitting 21st in the point standings. In past seasons he would have already dug a hole in his quest for a championship, but with the new Truck Series Chase format he knows that one race can quickly turn around your season. With a strong supporting cast around him this weekend, there is no time like the present to get that win.