Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell was made available to media at Bristol Motor Speedway:
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem-HtPG Refrigeration Products Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
“First and foremost, obviously Dale and Amy and all the Earnhardt family is what I’m really concerned about. I’m glad to hear that they put out some good news that everyone is okay. Hopefully we get to continue hearing good news about that.”
How about your good news?
“I’m sure everybody is wondering about 2020, but nothing is official until it comes from me or whatever team. I have no news to tell you guys right now. We’ll just have to wait for another day.”
Is it hard for you with everyone asking questions about your future?
“Ultimately, like I’ve said time and time again, my future is not really in my hands, so the only thing that I can control is if I can go out there and try and win races and do as good as I can. I have to play the cards how they fall.”
Do you know what you’re doing next year?
“Not yet. Not at this moment. It’s still – all the way up in the air. There’s a number of different cars that I could drive next year. I mean obviously I could still run the Xfinity Series, I could go to the Cup Series. It’s not in my hands right now. Just have to go out there and try and continue to win races and ultimately that’s the only way I’m going to better myself is if I can win races.”
Who makes the decisions for you – your agent, Joe Gibbs Racing?
“Ultimately it’s the car owners, right. It’s Coach (Gibbs) himself deciding where he wants my future to go right now. It’s ultimately up to the car owners what drivers they want to put into the cars. The only thing that I can do, like I said, is just try and put my best results and go out there and do as good as I can and prove to them that I deserve to be in the Cup Series.”
Is it true that Rheem wants to go Cup Series racing?
“That’s a good question. I don’t know. It’s tough for me to say because Rheem – to my knowledge I don’t think that they’ve been on a Cup car before. If they have, I’m not aware of it. I’ve been very fortunate to have Rheem on my Xfinity car and hopefully they stay with me for a long time to go.”
You don’t have an agent, right? You handle it all yourself. Why do you do it all yourself?
“Probably because that’s what I grew up doing. Sprint car racing, midget racing, you always just dealt directly with the car owners and that’s the way I’ve grown up doing it and that’s the way that I’m still going to continue doing it.”
Does it frustrate you that no matter what you do, your future is tied to maybe bumping someone, somewhere?
“It’s obviously unfortunate that there’s only so many car owners, right? This sport as a whole needs more car owners. We need more people out there to give opportunities to young guys. We’ve got a bunch of veterans like Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, right, that are still out there that could probably still win today. Ultimately, we need more car owners in this sport to give more opportunities and it would be a better situation for everybody, for sure.”
Are you stressed out over it at all?
“It is stressful, but the best way that I can answer it is I do have a job for next year, so ultimately that’s all that really matters. I’ll be racing something, whether it’s in the Cup Series or the Xfinity Series. I do have a job, so that’s really good.”
Given the news that the No. 95 seat is open in 2020, isn’t that the most logical alternative?
“I don’t know. That’s tough for me to answer because right now I drive for Joe Gibbs Racing and the 95 is not a Joe Gibbs Racing car. We’ll just have to see how it works out here in the next coming weeks.”
Has this been a distraction to you or your race team?
“No. Definitely not. Not my race team. For me, I feel like I do a good job of turning all the distractions off. Whenever you put a helmet on, it goes away pretty quick. You don’t really think about anything, you just go out there and perform the task at hand.”
How’s your car for Bristol?
“I think we’ve got a really good shot at it. There’s obviously a lot of great competitors this weekend. This race is a race that all of us Xfinity regulars have circled because it is a great opportunity for us to showcase if we are good or if we’re not good compared to the Cup regulars. This is probably the most Cup regulars that we’ll race in the year, so we need for all of us ‘Big 3,’ so to speak, we need to prove ourselves this week.”
How was your practice?
“It was good. We showed a lot of speed on the short run and the long run. Should have a shot at it.”
If you move to the Cup Series, would you want your crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, to come with you?
“Yeah, I definitely want (Jason) Ratcliff along with me every step of the way.”
Do you still feel ready for the Cup Series?
“I’ll let you know after this weekend. This weekend will be a great test because we’ve got Kyle (Busch), (Joey) Logano, Erik Jones, there’s a lot of really stout competition and this will really show where I stack up against these guys.”
Has there been any discussion in you at least getting some seat time in a Cup Series car this year?
“No. It makes it tough because there’s just no car owners out there, right. There’s no part time cars available for me to go hop in.”
The BC39 race is coming up. What are your expectations for that?
“Hopefully I can compete for a win there. Last year, that was a ton of fun. Obviously the weather kind of hindered it, but I’m excited about it. It’s a really fun event.”
Do you think the competition will be stronger at the BC39 this year?
“Stronger, no. Equally as tough, yes.”
What was your impression of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway dirt track last year?
“I thought it was going to be fantastic if we didn’t get rain, so hopefully the rain stays away and gets nice and wide for us and we can race really good.”
Toyota Racing PR