Joe Gibbs Racing announced Monday that Christopher Bell will drive the No. 20 Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021.
Bell is currently a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate with Leavine Family Racing, which team owner Bob Leavine indicated Aug. 4 that it had sold its charter would shut down at season’s end. The 25-year-old driver replaces Erik Jones, who will leave JGR and the No. 20 team after the 2020 campaign.
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“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” said Bell. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”
Bell won 16 races for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series before moving to the Cup Series for the 2020 season. He has been in Toyota’s NASCAR national-series system since 2015 and clinched the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship two years later for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Bell currently sits 19th in the Cup Series standings, with five top-10 finishes in 22 starts in the Leavine No. 95 Toyota, which shares a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. A slow start to the first five races of his Cup career knocked him outside the top 30 in points, but Bell has methodically rallied to his current rank. His best finish this season is fourth place, achieved during the first of two events this season at Pocono Raceway.
Bell joins an experienced and accomplished Joe Gibbs Racing lineup that includes Cup Series champions Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., plus Denny Hamlin, who has five wins this season. He becomes the fifth person to drive the No. 20 for Gibbs, following Tony Stewart, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Jones.
“We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”
Bell made the transition to stock cars from the sprint-car ranks and still competes there on a part-time basis. The Oklahoma native won the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals for three straight seasons (2017-19) in his home state and has five career main-event victories on the World of Outlaws sprint-car circuit.