Kyle Busch Motorsports

Xfinity Series Spotlight: Q&A with Christopher Bell

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In Norman, Oklahoma, the Sooners are king.

Growing up in the city 30 minutes south of Oklahoma City, the Sooners were a regular part of Christopher Bell‘s life, especially since his father, David, was a high school basketball coach when he was a little.

“As a kid I guess that’s what I dreamed of doing, was playing football and basketball,” Christopher Bell told NBC Sports. “Obviously that got derailed at a very young age once I got introduced to racing.”

Bell was 4 or 5 years old when he was invited by the family of one of his father’s players to watch him compete in a micro-sprint car race.

Christopher Bell drives his No. 4 Toyota at Michigan International Speedway in August. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

“I was hooked ever since,” Bell said. “From then on, I started racing when I was 6. Haven’t missed a weekend since.”

The most recent race weekend saw Bell, 22, win his seventh Camping World Truck Series race and his fifth of the year. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver leads the playoff standings after one race. It’s been almost a year since he made it to the championship race, the only driver out of four born after 1980.

This year has seen Bell get his feet wet in the Xfinity Series, making four starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. He’ll also compete in the final four races of the year.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: Do you have a favorite basketball team?

Bell: I used to love the Hornets. Whenever the Hornets, they were in New Orleans and then I think Hurricane Katrina got them. Then they moved to Oklahoma City (temporarily). So whenever the Hornets were in Oklahoma City (in 2005-06), I don’t think I ever missed a game. I loved the Hornets, so that was really cool. I have a lot of memories of going to Hornets games with my father as a kid.

NBC Sports: What’s the most fun race you’ve ever been part of?

Bell: Homestead last year was a ton of fun. I don’t know if that’s the most fun I’ve ever had. But the last 20 laps of the truck race at Homestead last year was really, really intense. Homestead races really well. There’s a bunch of different grooves there. Me, Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters were all racing for second place in the championship and it was a heck of a race and that was a ton of fun.

NBC Sports: If you were competing in the Cup Bristol night race, what would you choose as your intro song?

Bell: “Hall of Fame” by The Script. … As a race car driver, your dream is to be the greatest. … I want to be in the Hall of Fame one day.

NBC Sports: Which phone app do you use the most that’s not social media related?

Bell: I don’t ever really use my phone that much. I use “Sleep Man” a lot, which is a fan that I can use in hotels because I sleep with a fan on. That would be my No. 1. … Basically it just makes noise like a fan would. Because I always sleep with fans, but in hotels you don’t have a fan.

NBC Sports: In your career, what’s the best advice or criticism you’ve received?
Bell: Recently, it would have to be from Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch’s best piece of advice he gave me was ‘to let it happen.’ If it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. Don’t try and force it. So that sank in really hard because Kyle Busch has won so many races and he said ‘if you try too hard, it’s not going to happen. You can’t force it to happen. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.’ That’s really sunk in.

NBC Sports: How did you meet Kyle Busch?

Bell: We were actually going to a Snowball Derby test (in 2014) and he went with us.

Christopher Bell talks with Kyle Busch at Martinsville Speedway in 2016. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

NBC Sports: What were your initial impression of him?

Bell: I was shocked how he was just another, I don’t know. We flew on a plane from Concord, (North Carolina), to Pensacola, (Florida). I didn’t even know he was on the plane with us`and then all of a sudden we get off the plane and I end up riding in the car with him. We get to the race track and he was just in a T-shirt laying on the ground, working on his late model harder than any of his employees. It was cool to see how involved he was and how he was working on the car. He was on the radio asking what the car needed, then he was the one making changes to the car. I was blown away by how hands-on he was about the whole thing.

NBC Sports: You’ve got four more Xfinity races at the end of the year. If you could pick a track to race in Xfinity at, what would it be?

Bell: Bristol. Bristol is badass. The way the banking is, the short track. It’s a short track that races with speed like a mile-and-a-half. To me that’s just a recipe for awesomeness, man. It’s just one of the coolest races ever, because of all the stands wrapped around the race track. You’re basically racing in a coliseum. It’s one of my favorite tracks we go to.

NBC Sports: What’s been your highest high and the lowest low of our career?

Bell: The highest high was definitely winning the Chili Bowl. That was my dream race … that’s kind of what racing means to me is the Chili Bowl. So to win it was something that was incredible. My lowest low was probably wrecking last year at (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park) while qualifying. I wrecked a lot of trucks last year and then I went to Canada. Me and my crew chief (Jerry Baxter) sat down and we realized we can’t wreck. We had a big conversation about not wrecking and then I went out and wrecked in qualifying. So that hurt really bad. That stung.

Previous Spotlights

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

Daniel Hemric

William Byron

Spencer Gallagher

Cole Custer

Ross Chastain

Elliott Sadler

Ben Kennedy

Blake Koch

Brennan Poole

Matt Tifft

Tyler Reddick

Kyle Benjamin

Ty Majeski

Ryan Sieg

Dakoda Armstrong

Brendan Gaughan

Garrett Smithley

J.J. Yeley

Harrison Rhodes

James Davison

Jeremy Clements

David Starr

Austin Cindric

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Penalties issued to Stewart-Haas, RCR and Kyle Busch Motorsports

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NASCAR issued three penalties Tuesday from this past weekend’s racing action at both New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.

In the Cup Series, Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion driven by Clint Bowyer, was fined $10,000 for a safety violation: a loose lug nut discovered during post-race inspection at New Hampshire following the ISM Connect 300.

In the Xfinity Series, Randall Burnett, crew chief of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driven by Ben Kennedy at Kentucky, was issued an L1 penalty for post-race rear body inspection height violation that was outside allowed tolerances.

Burnett was fined $10,000 and suspended from this weekend’s Xfinity race at Dover. In addition, Kennedy was assessed the loss of 10 driver points, while the team was assessed the loss of 10 owner points.

Kennedy’s 11th-place finish was also encumbered.

Finally, in the Camping World Truck Series, Kevin Manion, crew chief of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra driven by Todd Gilliland, was fined $5,000 and suspended from this weekend’s Truck race in Las Vegas.

Manion was assessed an L1 penalty for failure to ensure the rear brake cooling assembly was sealed from the air inlet to the exhaust.

Gilliland’s third-place finish was encumbered and he was also assessed the loss of 10 driver points, while KBM suffered the loss of 10 owner points.

One Cup crew chief, two others in Trucks, fined for Bristol penalties

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NASCAR on Wednesday issued three penalties from the past weekend of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was found to be in violation of Sections 10.9 and 10.4 of the NASCAR Rule Book: Tires and wheels (lug nuts not properly installed).

As a result, crew chief Scott Graves has been fined $10,000.

In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the No. 51 and No. 83 Trucks were also found to be in violation of Sections 10.9 and 10.4 (lug nuts not properly installed).

As a result, Kevin Manion, crew chief of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, and Richard Mason, crew chief of the No. 83 DJ Copp Motorsports Chevrolet, were each fined $2,500.

All penalties were issued for safety level violations.

There were no penalties in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. There also were no suspensions or other penalties across all three series.

Kyle Busch wins Truck pole at Bristol with record lap

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Kyle Busch set a track record with a lap of 14.827 seconds (129.413 mph) to win the pole for tonight’s Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The former track record was 14.884 seconds (128.917 mph) by Tyler Reddick last August.

The pole is Busch’s 18th in the series.

He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell (128.606). It is the sixth front row starting spot for the series points leader this year.

Johnny Sauter (128.271) starts third and will be followed by KBM’s Noah Gragson  (128.253) and Brandon Jones (127.911).

Grant Enfinger, who is 24 points outside the final playoff spot, starts seventh after a lap of 127.648 mph.

Click here for starting lineup

Kyle Busch calls NASCAR’s restrictions on Cup drivers in other series ‘frustrating’

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Kyle Busch calls NASCAR’s efforts to limit how many races Cup drivers can run in the Xfinity and Truck Series “frustrating” and said that if he was ever barred from running all Truck races, he’d shut his team down.

Busch made the comments Tuesday afternoon on “SiriusXM Speedway.’’

NASCAR announced Tuesday morning that it would further limit how many races Cup drivers can run in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. For Busch, he will be able to run seven Xfinity races (down from 10 this year) and five Truck races (down from seven this year) next season.

MORE: What does further limits on Cup drivers in Xfinity and Trucks mean?

Busch expressed his disappointment with the rule change on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“It’s just kind of the way the sport has gone, I guess,’’ he said. “What’s kind of been happening the last couple of years with the comments and whatnot. It’s a bit frustrating for myself and for my team and for what we all had going on at Joe Gibbs Racing and what we wanted to accomplish. I get the picture. The problem with the picture is that it’s not painted as pretty as some may like it to be.’’

Busch noted that he skipped seven Xfinity races from early April to early June and all those races were won by Cup drivers — Kyle Larson and Erik Jones won twice each during that stretch.

“It didn’t change a damn thing,’’ Busch said of not running,“by eliminating the races that Cup drivers can run.

“If we all get together this offseason and pick and choose our races around each other’s schedule, we can still screw it up as much as we want to screw it up and piss everybody off. I wouldn’t be so certain that might not happen.’’

Busch also forecast the end of Kyle Busch Motorsports — which is in its eighth season in the Camping World Truck Series — if NASCAR won’t let him drive in that series.

“If the limits for the Truck Series goes to zero, I’m done,’’ Busch said. “You will no longer see Kyle Busch Motorsports teams out on the race track. That’s the way I’m going to make it. We’ll see how that progresses as the years go along. On the Xfinity Series side, I’m sure that Joe (Gibbs) is frustrated, and I know I’m frustrated. We’ll just continue to race the races were allowed to run with the sponsorship that we have.’’

Busch’s Truck team has won 61 races since 2010. He runs Truck races in part because of the sponsorship he can bring in, which allows the team to run younger drivers in other races.

“I enjoy going out and running Truck races,’’ said Busch, who has won two of the four Truck races he’s run this season. “If I’m not allowed to do that, then why am I owning a team that I’m not allowed to race for? It just doesn’t make any sense. If I’m out there spending money for other drivers and whatnot to come up through the ranks, but yet I’m getting beat up and not allowed to drive in it, then it’s no fun for me. Then why am I spending money to evolve talent that is going to replace me one day?’’

Many fans refer to NASCAR’s restrictions as a Kyle Busch rule since he’s the Cup driver who typically runs more Xfinity and Truck races than most.

Busch was asked if he felt he was being unfairly targeted by the restrictions.

“I don’t think it’s me necessarily getting singled out,’’ he told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I do feel as though that people have a legitimate bark, I guess let’s call it, with the Cup drivers in the Xfinity Series races. It only seems to get louder when it’s one particular driver.

“I do feel as though that these conversations wouldn’t be what they are if I were, let’s see, a Kevin Harvick or a Kyle Larson or a Brad (Keselowski), where I have a couple of wins a year here and there and I run 20, 15 races a year. But when I was running 20 races a year and I was winning 10 or 13 of those races, that’s when the barks seemed to get louder and talk of the restrictions seemed to get more and more.’’

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