First-time NASCAR Cup Series winner Christopher Bell is ready to get dirty at Bristol

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell won his first NASCAR Cup Series race this past weekend on the Daytona road course, which the dirt and short oval track specialist said was a “surprising” result.

“I knew that I was going to have a good opportunity to win a Cup race this year driving at Joe Gibbs Racing, Bell told Fox News Autos. “For it to come at the second race of the season on a road course was definitely something that caught me off guard.”

Bell’s only previous experience on this type of track was a test in a Trans Am racing car at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, where the Cup Series will race later this year during a season that will feature seven road and infield course races, the most ever.

But there’s another change coming that’s more in Bell’s wheelhouse, the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway in March. The half-mile track has been covered in red clay for the first time in Cup Series history.

“It’s going to be really fun to see the Cup cars on dirt and I’m just excited to go out there and put on a show,” Bell said.

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And he knows how to do that. In 2019, the Oklahoma native became the first three-peat winner of the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, the country’s premier dirt track event.

Returning NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson won it the past two years, but Bell won’t quite say they’re the favorites to win.

“I’d like to say we’re going to have an upper hand, that’s for sure, but the Cup Series is full of a ton of talented race car drivers that are going to figure it out pretty quick.”