Rookie Bell in title fight: "I don't think anybody expected us to be here"
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Christopher Bell finds himself as the lone young gun up against three experienced veterans in the season finale.
Christopher Bell is the outlier in the CWTS Championship 4. The average age of his three rivals is 38, while Bell is just 21. He will be making his 30th career Truck start this weekend while the other three are well into the triple digits on that front.
So it goes without saying that the ROTY contender finds himself in some very unfamiliar waters.
"I do think I'm the underdog, just because I don't think anybody really expected us to be here," he said during Championship 4 Media Day. "But after the start of the year, we were fast at the beginning of the year, then we kind of just didn't go right where we didn't finish races, then we were behind, kind of lost our speed there for a little bit. But now here we're in the Chase (and) we're in the thick of things. So we made it this far. We're going to have to make sure that we're on our A game to be able to be able to pull this off.
"But I know Jerry Baxter, my crew chief, has been awesome at this racetrack -- Homestead. So I'm really looking forward to coming here and getting to race for a championship. It's a dream come true."
In fact, he's only in the title conversation because his teammate William Byron (who has lit the world on fire) shockingly blew an engine while on his way to his seventh victory of the season at Phoenix.
"We made it here. I mean, I feel horrible for William because obviously he was kind of the class of the field the entire year. But luck was on our side and now we're in the Chase," said Bell when asked about the circumstances that brought him here.
Righting an upside down season
Bell's 2016 season has been quite an adventure. He started it on his lid, flipping spectacularly at the conclusion of the Daytona-opener. And although he struggled to find his footing in the weeks following that airborne misadventure, he has slowly found his groove just in time for the Chase.
"At the beginning of the year, we were really fast. It wasn't falling together. I was making mistakes. We're just getting caught up in wrecks. I got down on myself. Our team kind of fell into a hole, got into a slump where we were like, Man, we can't do anything right.
Jerry was kind of down. I was down. Kyle just sat me down. He said, 'Look, you've got great equipment. You're a talented racecar driver. Jerry is a hell of a crew chief. Everything will come together. You just got to stop trying to make it come together.' And then once that finally -- once I took that mentality to the racetrack, I just was able to let it fall in place.
Bell will continue to carry that mindset into the biggest race of his young career. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. That's the mentality we have going into Homestead."
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