Christopher Bell is coming off a successful run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he won 15 races over the last two seasons. This year, Bell is making the jump to the big leagues with a shot at being a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate.
He will race in the NASCAR Cup Series in the No. 95 Toyota for Leavine Family Racing.
Bell sat down with The Charlotte Observer to talk about preparing for his rookie season, competing against his former boss Kyle Busch and what it's like to get married right before racing in the Daytona 500.
The Observer: What are you feeling going into your first Cup Series?
Christopher Bell: This is a very exciting time for me. It's a whole new team for me, so I'm just trying to take in the moment, enjoy everything and make sure that I cherish my rookie season.
TO: Does it help having a familiar face in crew chief Jason Ratcliff?
CB: Yeah I think that's great. I'm very thankful that Bob Leavine, our team owner, has taken the chance not only on myself as a young driver, but also bringing over a veteran crew chief that was outside of his organization. I worked with Jason Ratcliff for the last two seasons on the Xfinity side and now we're able to continue our path together on the Cup side. Hopefully it'll shorten the learning curve for me.
TO: What have some of those early conversations been like with him? What are you guys talking about going into Daytona?
CB: The biggest thing is that Jason is a veteran crew chief. He has multiple Cup wins with veteran drivers and he's been a crew chief in the Cup Series for rookie drivers also, so he's a guy who's seen it all. He's really able to show me the ropes and get me as prepared as I can be going into my rookie season.
TO: I want to talk about your latest race at the Chili Bowl. What does that race mean to you and the fact that, as a three-year winner, you weren't able to clinch it this year?