Coming off a season-best fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Christopher Bell and his No. 4 Toyota Racing team head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway for Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 200. Friday's event will mark the 12th career start for Bell in NASCAR's third division and his first at the challenging one-mile concrete oval aptly named the "Monster Mile."
While it will be Bell's first visit to Dover, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has a history of success at the Delaware track. KBM's Truck Series drivers have produced three wins, two poles, five top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.7 across 12 starts at Dover and the team's 680 laps led at the one-mile oval are more than at any other track on the circuit. Owner-driver Kyle Busch has collected all three victories for his team (2011, 2013 & 2014) and one of the poles (2010). The other Dover pole was earned in the 2013 event by Darrell Wallace Jr. during his rookie season in the Truck Series with Bell's crew chief, Jerry Baxter, calling the shots. Wallace Jr. led the first 119 laps of the 200-lap event, but battled a loose-handling Tundra in the late stages and ended the day with a 10th-place finish in the event which was won by Busch. In last year's race, Baxter guided Daniel Suarez to a runner-up finish after starting fifth.
Last weekend's fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway was the first time during the 2016 season that Bell has produced a finish indicative of his performance. His average finish (16.3) across the first four events is much higher than both his average mid race position (10.3) and his average running position (9.5) this season. He was scored in the fourth position when the field took the final restart for the season-opening event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and ended on his roof with a 16th-place finish. At Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway, he was leading with eight-laps remaining when he blew a right-front tire and was relegated to a 26th-place finish. And although he posted his best finish of the season, he was lined up in the second position for NASCAR overtime at Kansas and ending up losing two spots over the final two laps when he got shuffled back on the final restart.
The open-wheel dirt standout was able to experience the thrill of a Truck Series victory in just his third career start last year at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and is now in search of his first non-dirt victory in NASCAR's third division. Bell has been ringing at the door of victory lane in three of the four races in 2016 and the determined youngster won't be satisfied until he makes his way in.