Budding on-track rivalry between Bell, Larson giving fans a show

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“Christopher Bell was second.”

That’s how Kyle Larson’s two-year-old son Owen opened up his father’s NASCAR Xfinity Series post-victory press conference last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

And the budding on-track rivalry between the two young drivers is shaping up to be one fans can expect to enjoy for a very long time.

“It’s always fun to race Bell,” Larson told the media following his victory in the Boyd Gaming 300. “He seems to beat me all the time in the dirt stuff, and he edged me out there in qualifying (at Las Vegas). We were pretty equal. … It’s hard to get past him because he doesn’t make any mistakes.”

With less than two years separating the rising stars, the maturity and respect between the 25-year-old Larson and the 23-year-old Bell might be even more impressive than their abilities behind the wheel.

“That first stage felt like we were dirt track racing,” Larson explained. “Swapping lanes and stuff. I was trying to take the air out of him, and he got by. But I was able to get the top going. … It was fun.”

In his first season as a full-time Xfinity driver, Bell has two poles and two top-five finishes through the first three races of the season. Not too bad of a start for a rookie.

“That first stage was some of the most fun I’ve had in a stock-car,” Bell described after the race.

The Joe Gibbs driver claimed his second Chili Bowl victory in January — and of course his fellow dirt-track pilot was right there with him despite a heartbreaking blown engine. However, now that Bell is finding his groove and moving up the rankings through the sport’s series, the battle at Las Vegas won’t be the last one-two finish fans see between the drivers.

“Kyle man, he races me hard,” said the 2017 Camping World Truck Series champion. “He’s always raced me hard. … That was our first pavement race head-to-head together. If I was going to run second to anyone I’m glad it was Kyle Larson. That was really cool.”