Christopher Bell’s ascension to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series always was a matter of “when,” rather than “if.”
Well, we finally have a good idea of when the highly touted prospect will make his debut on NASCAR’s top flight.
Despite rumors of possibly losing his spot in the No. 20 Toyota Camry, Erik Jones will return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported Tuesday night. Consequently, Bell is expected to replace Matt DiBenedetto in the No. 95 for Leavine Family Racing, which has a technical alliance with JGR.
Bell currently drives for JGR in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
If true, this news is somewhat of a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it’s great news for the 24-year-old Bell, who’s regarded as one of the sport’s most promising young drivers and whose promotion to Cup has been long overdue. On the other hand, it’s disappointing for DiBenedetto, a fan favorite who, while driving on a proverbial hot seat, has earned four top-eight finishes in his last eight races.
Despite Stern’s report, many feel that DiBenedetto still has a chance to prove his worth Saturday when he’ll drive for JGR in the Xfinity race at Road America.
Bell has 15 top-10s, including five victories, in 21 Xfinity races this season.
Jones, in his third season as a full-time driver in the Cup Series, has 12 top-10s in 23 starts. The 23-year-old has just one victory in 98 career Cup races.