Christopher Bell Goes to Leavine Family Racing in 2020
CONCORD, NC – RIS – As has been rumored for weeks, Christopher Bell, the young star in NASCAR’s Xfinity series, will move to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2020 with Leavine Family Racing in the No. 95 Toyota. There was no place for the young Bell to go in the Cup series with Joe Gibbs Racing since all four cars being filled with NASCAR stars. He now moves to an associative team with ties to JGR.
In addition to Bell in the driver's seat, the technical alliance between LFR, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) will also be enhanced for the 2020 season. TRD will continue to build the team's engines and provide technology, data and technical assistance. Enhancements to the technical alliance between JGR and LFR, which began with the 2019 MENCS season, will continue to build into the 2020 season.
Bell's NASCAR Xfinity Series crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, will join him in the transition to LFR and the Cup Series. Ratcliff is no stranger to NASCAR's premier series as he spent six full seasons serving as a Cup crew chief at JGR with drivers Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Mike Wheeler will remain with LFR and transition to the role of Competition Director, working alongside Ratcliff. Wheeler was instrumental in LFR's growth during the 2019 season serving as crew chief of the No. 95 as the organization ran Toyota Camrys for their first year in an alliance with the manufacturer and JGR. With Wheeler's promotion to Competition Director, Michael Leavine who is LFR's current Competition Director will now become the Vice President of Racing Operations for the organization. Leavine will play an active role in guiding LFR through the upcoming competition changes within NASCAR.
"I've said from the start, I want this team to be competitive," said Bob Leavine, LFR team founding owner. "Christopher is one of the most talented drivers we've seen come up through NASCAR's ranks and together, with JGR and Toyota's support, I'm confident our team will continue to grow, just as it has this past year. We're certainly happy to continue to progress our relationship with both JGR and TRD as the technical partnership takes the next step forward."
A native of Norman, Oklahoma, Bell began his career racing on local dirt tracks around the Midwest. He then moved on to compete in USAC Racing's National Midget Series where he joined TRD's driver development program and won the 2013 title.
Bell's NASCAR career started in 2015 racing a Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Just two years later, he won the 2017 Truck Series championship, and that same year he captured the first of three-consecutive Chili Bowl titles (2017, 2018, 2019) driving a TRD-powered Midget for Keith Kunz Motorsports.
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.