MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 8, 2017) – After picking up his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series-leading fourth win of the season in the circuit’s last stop at Pocono Raceway in Long, Pond, Pa., Christopher Bell took over the points lead from reigning champion Jonny Sauter. Including this weekend’s event at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Bell has four more regular season races left to hold off Sauter and earn the coveted 15 playoff bonus points for being the regular-season champion.
After winning one race and finishing third in the 2016 Truck Series championship standings, the 22-year-old driver has returned with a vengeance this season. In addition to toping the Truck Series point standings, Bell currently tops the circuit in poles (three), playoff points (24), laps led (521), driver rating (118.9), average starting position (4.3), average finish (5.6), top-10 finishes (11) and fastest laps run (228).
Intermediate tracks have been Bell’s strong suit this season, as all three of his poles and all four of his victories have come at tracks between 1.5-miles and 2.5 miles in length. He started the season off winning the pole and all three stages at Atlanta Motor Speedway and also picked up victories at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and most recently Pocono. His average finish in five starts on intermediate tracks this season is 2.0. When Bell hasn’t been able to pick up the victory on the intermediate tracks, his boss and team owner Kyle Busch has picked up his slack and earned Kyle Busch Motorsports the victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Bell had a fast Tundra at Michigan last year, but didn’t have the result to show for it. After running inside the top five for the majority of the race, he made a move to take the lead from Cole Custer with 25 laps remaining, but ended up getting aero loose and crashing into another competitor and then into the outside wall. The accident relegated him to a disappointing 24th-place finish.
The talented wheelman will be looking to redeem himself from last year’s disappointing finish this weekend. Bell aims to be the leader of the pack at the end of Saturday’s 100-lap race in the Irish Hills in an effort to collect his fifth Truck Series win of 2017 and extend his points lead as the end of the regular season approaches.
Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 4 NCWTS JBL/SiriusXM Tundra:
What is your outlook heading to Michigan this week?
“I ran really well at Michigan last year until I crashed going for the lead late in the race, so I’m looking forward to going back there this year and trying to redeem myself. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) had a really fast Tundra there last year with William (Byron) – he and I worked really well together and were able to stay up front most of the race. Michigan is a place that you can’t really drive away from people, so you have to make sure that your truck handles well in the draft. Using all the aero techniques that you have in your arsenal is going to be the key to success this weekend.”
Ryan “Rudy” Fugle, crew chief of the No. 4 NCWTS JBL/SiriusXM Tundra:
What does it take to have a fast truck at Michigan?
“When you first get there it’s all drafting and seems a lot like Daytona and Talladega, but by the time the race starts and all the rubber is down and all the trucks are out there at once it’s a lot of handling and drafting. That makes it like an old-school Daytona – when Daytona was wore out where you had to draft and handle all at the same time. It’s fun as a crew chief to try and get that balance, but it’s also difficult because you never get in a big enough pack in practice to be in the situations that you will be in during the race.”
Christopher Bell’s No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Tundra:
KBM-044: The No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Racing team will unload KBM-044 for Saturday’s LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It is the same Tundra that Kyle Busch led a race-high 91 laps en route to victory with earlier this season at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
KBM NCWTS @ Michigan International Speedway
- KBM drivers have collected one win, 253 laps led, six top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.6 across 14 starts at Michigan
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch led a race-high 44 laps and claimed KBM’s lone victory in the Irish Hills in the 2015 event
The Fugle File:
Ryan “Rudy” Fugle begins his fourth season as a crew chief at KBM and sixth overall with the organization. The New York native has guided his team to an Owner’s championship in all three of his seasons (2013, 2015 & 2016) atop the pit box at KBM, including a combined Owner’s/Driver’s Championship with Erik Jones in 2015. His drivers have combined for 20 wins, 12 poles and 40 top-five finishes across his 80 races calling the shots for the organization. Under his tutelage last season, William Byron collected a Truck Series’ rookie record seven wins while leading the No. 9 Tundra team to KBM’s fourth consecutive and fifth overall Owner’s championship.
Fugle’s NCWTS drivers have posted 58 laps led and finished inside the top five in each of his three starts calling the shots at Michigan. William Byron led nine laps and finished fourth in last year’s event.