Toyota Racing – Christopher Bell
I NASCAR Cup Series Quotes
DARLINGTON, S.C. (September 2, 2023) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell was made available to media after winning the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway on Saturday:
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Yahoo! Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
How does this help your confidence being on the pole for the first race of the Playoffs?
“It definitely feels good. Darlington is a place that’s notoriously hard to pass, so starting up front is a really big deal. But, with that being said, it’s an extremely long race. The Southern 500 is in my opinion probably harder than the Coca-Cola 600 just because of the race track that we’re at. Very long time tomorrow so starting position has no indication of where we’re going to finish, but we certainly have the speed to compete and hopefully we can keep it up front all day.”
Has qualifying been a particular point of emphasis with the Next Gen car?
“We always try and qualify good, but I’ll be honest last year we qualified a lot better than what we were doing at the beginning of this year. Definitely after we got through the first probably five, eight races of this year we were wondering what happened, right? Because last year we made the final round a lot – the majority of the time and then at the beginning of this year we were really struggling. My team, Adam Stevens (crew chief), Tyler (Allen) and William (Hartman) my engineers have put a lot of emphasis on qualifying here the last couple months and it’s really showed. We’ve been able to be in the hunt a lot more, make that final round and it really helps out on Sunday’s whenever you get a good pit stall selection. At certain race tracks, qualifying is a really big deal, and this is definitely one of them.”
Why is the Southern 500 more difficult than the Coca-Cola 600?
“Just because Darlington is a very, very mentally taxing race track. You have to put it up against the fence consistently and the track is very slick — much slicker than what we have at Charlotte. The weather is going to be nice and it’s a night race so that helps a little bit, but it’s just a mentally draining place at Darlington.”
Is this the best possible way for you to kick off the 10-race Playoffs with a new pit crew?
“Yeah. It should help. Having the number one pit stall should be a big advantage. I’m excited to drive for this new group and hopefully we can start the Playoffs off strong in our first race. Hopefully, we can both perform up to our standards.”
How important was it building the momentum you did in the Playoffs last year?
“Yeah, that was huge. Getting the Playoffs kicked off at Darlington last year was a huge, huge momentum booster for the Round of 16. And I’ve talked about how hard this race is. It’s a very mental race and people are going to make mistakes and take themselves out of it so you can’t be in that group. Fortunately, last year we were able to qualify on the front row and the race went really smooth for us. We were able to score stage points in stage one and stage two and have a good finish. And, then your outlook is much more positive going into Kansas and Bristol. Bristol is not a road course and it’s not a superspeedway. It has a little bit of that wild card feel because it’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s messes. I would love to be in a great points position going into Bristol where you can be very aggressive there because it’s a track that rewards aggression. We were able to do that last year so hopefully we can do it again.”
Was it an advantage being in Group A today?
“Yeah, it’s always a big advantage being in Group A whenever we come to these slick race tracks. Just because the amount of time you have cooling your tires is a really big deal. It’s been like that since the start of this qualifying format last year and its bit me plenty of times, so I’m glad I was on the opposite end of it this time.”
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in North America for more than 65 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our more than 1,800 dealerships.
Toyota directly employs more than 48,000 people in North America who have contributed to the design, engineering, and assembly of nearly 45 million cars and trucks at our 13 manufacturing plants. By 2025, Toyota’s 14th plant in North Carolina will begin to manufacture automotive batteries for electrified vehicles. With more electrified vehicles on the road than any other automaker, Toyota currently offers 22 electrified options.
Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit www.ToyotaNewsroom.com.