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Christopher Bell returns to Trucks at North Wilkesboro
When the NASCAR Cup Series heads to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race on 21 May, Christopher Bell hopes to use the previous day’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event to gain extra track time. On Friday, Hattori Racing Enterprises announced Bell will drive the #61 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, marking the team’s return to two trucks albeit for a one-off.
Bell was the 2017 Truck Series champion in a dominant campaign in which he scored five wins and top tens in all but two races. He moved up to the Xfinity Series the following year, but did a single Truck start at Bristol with Kyle Busch Motorsports where he won the pole but finished twenty-eighth. The entry was his last Truck run to date. In fifty-four career Truck starts, he has seven wins and forty-one top tens as well as six poles.
Now in the Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, Bell is considered a burgeoning star after a three-win 2022 campaign in which he made the Championship Round. Four races into the 2023 season, he sits third in the standings.
HRE fields the #16 for Tyler Ankrum as the flagship truck. They opened a second truck, the #61, for Chase Purdy in 2022 but he left the team for KBM at season’s end. The #61 finished seventeenth in owner points with two top tens. Ankrum is in his second year with the team after placing twelfth in the 2022 standings.
Bell does not have prior experience at North Wilkesboro, which closed in 1996 before re-opening in 2022 with NASCAR returning the following year. Fellow Cup driver William Byron is also using the Truck support race to prepare himself for the All-Star, driving for KBM; Bell and Byron were KBM team-mates in 2016.
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