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Countdown to Daytona - 5 Days

(Cover Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

By Adam Carabine

In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.

3rd Place – Christopher Bell – 5,027 pts


+124 Pass Differential in 2022 – Christopher Bell’s Cup Series sample size may be small, but 2022 was a standout year for the youngster. Not only did he pass 124 more cars than passed him, he surpassed his 2021 total by a large margin. In ’21, Bell was in the negative, scoring a -45 Pass Differential. Fast forward just one year, and Bell is ranked 12th of all Cup Series charters in this category.

3 Wins in 2022 – His win at New Hampshire in July of 2022 locked him into the playoffs, but it was Christopher Bell’s clutch performances in the playoffs that earned him a spot in the Final Four. Bell won at both of the final two cut-off races, in positions where he was destined to be eliminated. Without winning at the Charlotte Roval, Bell should have been eliminated from the Round of 12, as he had only enough points to place 11th. However, he soldiered on, and repeated that same feat at Martinsville 3 races later. He should have been eliminated in the Round of 8, only having scored enough points to earn 7th place. What could have easily been a respectable 11th placed finish on the season saw him become a true Championship contender.

2.00 Better Average Running Position than in 2021 – In 2021, Christopher Bell’s first year with Joe Gibbs Racing after a year in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95, Bell scored a respectable average finish of 15.81. For a younger driver just getting dipping his toes into the Cup Series, that’s a number to be proud of. 2022 comes along, and Bell betters that number by an entire two positions (on average, per race). 13.81 in 2022 is fantastic – it’s the best of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, and 5th overall.

573 Laps Led in 2022 – Christopher Bell led a lot of laps in 2022. His 573 laps led ranked him 9th out of Cup Series charters, though it was the worst of the Final Four. In 2021, Bell led just 100 laps, so this was a massive improvement for him and the No. 20 team.

35.00 Average Finish @ Daytona in 2022 – The most prestigious racetrack in all of NASCAR, and it is clearly not a friend to Christopher Bell. Over the two races at Daytona in 2022, Bell scored 34th at the 500, and then 36th at the regular season finale. Over his 6 career Cup Series races there, his Average Finish ranks in the Bottom 5 of current drivers. Being good at Daytona isn’t going to win or lose you a championship, but it is interesting that this year’s 3rd placed driver simultaneously performed so poorly out in Eastern Florida.

Christopher Bell reportedly signed a long term deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, as reported around October 2022. JGR could be looking at a bit of a youthful rebirth as both Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. reach closer to retirement age. With Kyle Busch leaving and being replaced by Ty Gibbs, Bell may be part of their long-term plan for a while.

Coming up next in the Countdown to Daytona series – Ross Chastain!

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