Christopher Bell has won back-to-back Xfinity races for the first time in his career. Last weekend’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the third win of the year and fourth overall.
Toyota had Kyle Larson in its plans before he was lured away by Chevrolet and Chip Ganassi Racing. Toyota does not want that to happen to the 23-year-old Bell.
The pressure is on to find Bell a suitable ride – or at the very least, to make certain that he is comfortable with the plan to get him to the highest level of stock car racing.
In the past two seasons, another pair of highly regarded young guns took a rapid path to the Cup series.
In 2015, Erik Jones won the Truck series championship. He was in the championship race the next year and moved to Cup in 2017 in an entry that was basically created for him at Furniture Row Racing.
In 2016, William Byron came within a blown engine from winning the Truck championship. He won the Xfinity title the next year and was promoted to the No. 24 of Hendrick Motorsports in 2018.
Bell won the Truck championship in 2017 and has the most playoff points in Xfinity.
He is slated to race full time in Xfinity next year but could be in Cup by 2020, and it might get tricky. Joe Gibbs Racing’s lineup is full, and there are no plans to take the second Furniture Row Racing car that Jones drove in 2017 out of mothballs.
But keeping Bell within the fold is important to Toyota Racing Development, which also had Kyle Larson (who came up through the dirt ranks in a manner similar to Bell) under its umbrella several years ago but was unable to help place him with one of its NASCAR teams.
“Toyota officials have publicly said they are not going to let Bell get away the way that Kyle Larson did,” Nate Ryan said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America.
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