Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four stories examining why every Championship 4 driver could win the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship. For more on Bell and the Championship 4, tune in to the docs. “Race for the Championship” series at 10 p.m. ET Thursday on USA Network or tune your DVRs.
Tuesday: Joey Logano
Wednesday: Christophe Bell
Thursday: Ross Chastain
Friday: Chase Elliott
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Christopher Bell will win the 2022 championship because…
… it becomes the new “Closer” before our eyes.
Of course, Kevin Harvick is still racing and should be racing competitively again next season in what could potentially be his last year, but he might as well give the nickname – he has more than a lot to share, anyway – to Bell before he ends up hanging up the fire suit.
What the #20 driver accomplished just to reach Championship 4 was enough to hang on a season in itself, winning with his back to the wall and facing elimination twice at two different tracks that couldn’t be more different. However, there’s no way this team will feel like they’re playing with house money, and with Phoenix essentially being the same do-or-die scenario, who’s to say they can’t do three for three? You could even say that his task in Phoenix, while obviously huge, is easier because the objective is clear: to finish ahead of three passenger cars, not the whole field. Twice.
RELATED: The Odds of Winning the 2022 Championship
Time will tell if the “clutch” gene is deeply embedded in Bell’s DNA, but for now, it appears to be. The Oklahoma native and sprint racing star won all types of races on all types of stages, many of which were the best in those respective disciplines. Although this is his first 4 championship, the spotlight doesn’t seem to bother him one way or another – and let’s not forget he has four more appearances in the title chase in both other national series, winning the Truck Series championship in 2017.
The story continues
Bell’s 2022 season has been breathtaking at times, coming out of the gate with six finishes of 20th or worse in the first 10 races, with a playoff appearance all but a guarantee through July. Things took a turn with his key victory at Loudon over the summer, however, and since then he has earned seven more top five finishes and two playoff victories.
The 27-year-old has been adamant all season that his early hiccups were mostly circumstantial and his #20 Toyota Camry was fast enough to win races. Well, he obviously proved that to be true, but to dig deeper – Bell tied fellow dirt maven Kyle Larson for the series lead in poles (four) this year, after never having won one before. He also led the most laps of any Championship 4 driver in the playoffs with 311. No other competitor has more than 140, and he is the only one to have two playoff wins and five top five finishes in the during the first nine races.
And we haven’t even talked about the guy on top of the box yet.
Bell crew chief Adam Stevens has felt like a fixture in the Championship 4 in his years, guiding Kyle Busch to a pair of titles, running for the Championship together five consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2019 before part ways after 2020. It could be the start of a new dynasty if this deadly pairing continues to be as formidable as it looks, and Bell could be championed as the face of Toyota from here if it wins it all.
Seeking to become the first No.20 driver to win a title for JGR since Tony Stewart’s triumph in 2005, Bell would also be the youngest – and only under 30 – to do so for the championship organization as well. . Considering he’s won two of the last four races and has all the momentum in the world, the pieces are there.
Just close the deal.
MORE: All Joe Gibbs Racing wins by driver
. Why Christopher Bell will win title NASCAR Cup Series