Oklahoma native Christopher Bell will make his 51st career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start Friday night in the JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth. Bell will be looking to add to his series-leading five wins in 2017 and complete a sweep of the Truck Series races at Texas this season.
In the June race at the 1.5-mile tri-oval, the 22-year-old came from the 21st starting position to lead 92 of the final 98 laps and was just inches ahead of Chase Briscoe when the field was frozen after a three-truck accident ended the race under caution during the green-white-checkered finish. If Bell is able to win Friday night's race at the track located just over 150 miles from where he grew up in Norman, Okla., he would become just the third driver to sweep the Truck Series races at TMS. Ron Hornaday Jr. was able to win both races in 2008 and Johnny Sauter accomplished the feat in 2012.
With an eighth-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend in the opening race of the Round of 6, Bell maintained his spot atop the Truck Series championship standings for the ninth consecutive race. He currently leads reigning Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter by three points and with two events remaining in the Round of 6 has a 45-point cushion on the cutoff line for advancing to the championship race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
In addition to pacing the standings for the last nine races, the talented wheelman leads NASCAR's third division in nearly every major statistical category this season, including wins (five), poles (four), top-five finishes (13), top-10 finishes (18), driver rating (117.4), average starting position (4.8), average finish (5.9), average running position (6.2), laps led (755) and fastest laps run (355).
Bell, who was an open-wheel standout before becoming a pavement prodigy, has displayed the talent necessary to have a successful career in NASCAR since coming on the scene in June of 2015. Near the end of the 2016 season he started producing more consistent results and in 2017 those results have become eye opening. His continued progress has allowed him to become dubbed as one of the sport's rising stars. Across the first 25 starts of his Truck Series career the Toyota development driver registered two wins, 308 laps led, eight top five-finishes, 16 top-10 finishes and an average finish of 10.6. He has improved in all of those categories, producing five wins, 755 laps led, 14 top five-finishes, 22 top-10 finishes and an average finish of 6.2 across his last 25 Truck Series starts.
With his graduation to the NASCAR XFINITY Series already announced for 2018, Bell will be looking to cap off his second full-time season in the Truck Series by adding another championship banner to the five already hanging in the rafters at Kyle Busch Motorsports. They say that the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas and one of NASCAR's rising stars is hoping to shine bright under the lights of Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. He's hoping to put on a black cowboy hat and ride out of victory lane with a ticket to the championship race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.