If you had to choose the JBL product that's name signified the improvements that Christopher Bell has made between the first 10 and the last 10 races of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) career, it would have to be the 'Xtreme' - JBL's ultimate splashproof portable speaker.
The open-wheel dirt standout began his Truck Series career on a high note, earning a fifth-place finish in his series debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton and then went to victory lane on the dirt at famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio in just his third-career start. While Bell continued to show speed across the final four events of his seven-race schedule last season, an eighth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth was his only top-10 result post Eldora.
Bell's talent behind the wheel was evident and earned him a full-time ride this year. Unfortunately, the results at the start of his rookie campaign were similar to those at the end of his debut season. In the first two events of the 2016 season, the talented youngster was in a position to win late in both races but was involved in accidents in the closing laps and finished 16th and 26th, respectively. In the third race of the season at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he was in a position for a top-10 finish but once again got caught up in an accident and ended the day with a 19th-place finish. With untimely luck and disappointing results, the Oklahoma native found himself 22nd in the point standings.
The Martinsville race marked the 10th start of his Truck Series career and at that point he had tallied one win, two top-five and three top-10 finishes. Despite proving that he could consistently run inside the top 10 and produce the speed necessary to be successful, his statistics showed an average finish of 14.4 and five results of 15th or worse.
Since leaving Martinsville, Bell has responded by finishing inside the top 10 in nine of the last 10 races, including six straight, and posted an average finish of 8.0 during that span. With the improved results, the talented youngster has been able to charge all the way up to fifth in the NCWTS standings entering Saturday's event at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, and thanks to his win at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., in June, he currently sits fourth on the eight-driver grid for the inaugural Truck Series Chase.
With three races remaining until the Chase begins and six full-time drivers having notched at least one win, Bell can clinch his spot by winning at Michigan. If he isn't able to win, Bell and the No. 4 JBL Racing team can still lock into the Chase if there isn't another new winner this weekend amongst the full-time Truck Series competitors. Considering where they stood leaving Martinsville in April, you can say they've made 'xtreme' improvements.
Christopher Bell 'Xtreme' Improvements
Latest from Speedway Digest Staff
- NBC Sports NASCAR Hot Pass presents hyper-focused simulcast coverage over 2019 Championship Four contenders on NBCSN
- Cole Custer and No. 00 Haas Automation Team Vie for 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship
- Kevin Harvick and No. 4 Busch Light Team Vie for 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship
- SS Green Light Racing Continues to Impress with Top-15 Runs in Phoenix
- Special Edition Championship 4 News & Notes - NASCAR Xfinity Series & NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series