FORT WORTH, Texas – If Christopher Bell is to tie Kevin Swindell with his fourth-straight Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals victory in January, he’ll have to do so with new scenery and a new race car.
Bell confirmed Saturday night following his NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Texas Motor Speedway that he’ll chase his fourth Golden Driller in the last four years with Tucker-Boat Motorsports.
“Yes,” said Bell after a long hesitation when asked outright about his plans and whether he would pilot a TBM entry in Tulsa during the post-race media conference.
The Norman, Okla., native and soon-to-be NASCAR Cup Series driver has spent virtually all of his midget career, since hitting the national stage in 2013, with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports. During that time, he’s collected a myriad of crown jewel wins and three straight Chili Bowl crowns.
Now, however, he’s both ready for a new challenge and to get back to “having fun” racing midgets.
“I love Pete (Willoughby, co-owner) and Keith (Kunz); they’re like family to me,” Bell said. “Just … for me, I’ve been there, done that and won so many races for Pete and Keith that I just feel like I was set up for failure going to the race track with them, because we’ve been so successful in the past. I hated that feeling. For me, going midget racing is about enjoying it and having fun.
“I want to go there and do both of those things. Chad (Boat) and I have become really good friends over the last year or so, and now whenever I go to the race tracks with Chad, it’s about enjoying it and having fun. Results are secondary,” Bell added. “With Keith Kunz Motorsports, results are primary and I really feel like I was set up for failure whenever I was going to the track with them.
“I really enjoy racing with Chad because it’s just me and my buddy headed out to the dirt track.”
Bell and Boat have already won together in national midget competition this year, triumphing during a POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League event at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway back on June 30.
Bell’s move to the Chad Boat and Corey Tucker-led team means that the top two finishers from last year’s Chili Bowl will be with different organizations, as Kyle Larson confirmed to Sprint Car & Midget during the recent Martinsville Speedway NASCAR weekend that he’ll drive his own No. 1k in Tulsa.
“It’s going to be a very unique Chili Bowl, for sure,” Bell noted. “A change of pace, definitely.”