Christopher Bell and the No. 4 SiriusXM Racing team head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon Saturday for the first race in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. Bell earned a berth in the first-ever elimination-style playoffs by winning at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., in June and will enter the Chase as the fourth seed in the eight-driver field.
Of the three tracks that make up round one of the Chase, New Hampshire is the only track that Bell doesn't have experience at in the Truck Series. He raced Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) Super Late Model in the Pro All Star Series at the "Magic Mile" last July, but a mechanical issue sidelined him just 11 laps into the 60-lap event.
Knowing that having a strong run in the first race of the Chase is going to be important, KBM scheduled one of their allotted rookie tests at New Hampshire in August. Bell along with his KBM teammates William Byron and Cody Coughlin each made close to 300 laps at the 1.058-mile oval to prepare for this weekend's race. The No. 4 Toyota Racing team took KBM-25 to the test, which is the same Tundra that they will unload when practice starts for the UNOH 175 on Friday afternoon. The truck is no stranger to New Hampshire, as Kyle Busch led 67 laps with it last year before he developed a tire rub and was relegated to an 11th-place finish after a late visit to pit road.
KBM-25 is also the same Tundra that Bell picked up his lone victory of the 2016 season with at Gateway. The win at Gateway was a turning point in the season for Bell. Beginning with that race, the Oklahoma native has finished inside the top 10 in seven of the last eight events, including the win and four other top-five finishes. The only finish outside the top 10 over the last eight races for the 21-year-old was at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where he was relegated to a 24th-place finish after he wrecked while attempting a pass for the lead.
Bell ended the regular season fifth in the Truck Series point standings, 43 tallies behind his teammate and points leader William Byron. While not impossible, in years past the talented youngster would likely already be out of contention for the championship with just seven races remaining and four drivers ahead of him in the standings. The reset in points to start the inaugural Chase brings new life into the No. 4 team's quest for a championship and they know that it's time to get 'sirius.'