Bell clears the air on comments about Gibbs not liking him dirt racing

Christopher Bell says it wasn’t what it seemed. A few weeks ago, there were talks in the racing world that Bell wasn’t happy with boss, Joe Gibbs, and that he’d maybe look for a way out soon. As far as to why?

Dirt racing.

Bell is among the best there is in the dirt world. The thing is, he’s not racing as much.

Some thought that it was because Gibbs put his foot down and wasn’t allowing Bell to do what he likes to do best. I mean Rick Hendrick used to be that way with his drivers and preferred them to not race in other cars outside of his Cup cars. I mean, who could blame them, right? These owners are paying their drivers hefty salaries and in a sport as dangerous as racing, why would owners want their prized possessions racing for someone else and take the risk of an injury.

However, Hendrick has since changed his stance. He sees just how valuable dirt racing is for someone like Kyle Larson. It’s repetition to what makes him great. Larson rewarded Hendrick by winning 10 races in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports on his way to a championship year in 2021.

Bell’s dirt racing days have seemed more grounded. Following Bell’s initial comments on the manner, most felt like he’d eventually work his way out of JGR.

“I feel like I need to clear the air a little bit. My comments definitely didn’t reflect my situation, my relationship with Joe Gibbs and you know, my standing with the team,” Bell said. “Joe, himself, the entire Gibbs family has been nothing but helpful for me and inspiring for me. Joe has not mentioned any dislike for dirt track racing. The only thing was his wanting to keep me healthy whether that was racing or being out on the lake or anything. He just had my best interest in mind. I did a bad job of portraying that. I don’t know what the future holds for me dirt track racing, but my comments were not well put.”

Bell and JGR quietly agreed to a contract extension just last year and with NASCAR being the big leagues, I don’t see why Bell would even risk leaving in the first place. I mean he had a breakout season in 2022 for which he marched all the way to the Championship 4 on the heels of three trips to victory lane, two of which in Game 7 walkoff fashion at the end of the second and third round.

That has his confidence sky high entering the 2023 season.

“Last year was just such a learning curve and I keep harping on the fact that last year we didn’t have practice and qualifying in 2021 and then in 2022 it really allowed myself and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) to hone in on what I needed in the car to be successful,” said Bell. “I hope that continues to get better and better. I think everyone will say that this weekend at the Clash, their car will be incredibly different than what they had here a year ago. I expect us to continue to gel and hopefully. Have more pace and more results. At the end of the year, our performance on track was matching our results a little bit better and hopefully we can continue that.”

Bell was vocal that when he came into this series as a rookie in 2020, there was no practice. 32 of the 36 races was just show up and race. Barely any qualifying either. So he was already behind the eight ball.

Then in 2021, it was similar. Hard to learn a Cup car and make adjustments when you don’t know what adjustments need made.

2022 was different. More practice, all qualifying and great communication between he and crew chief Adam Stevens. It paid off. Can it get them just one step further in 2023?

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