ROSSBURG, Ohio – Former Eldora Dirt Derby winner Christopher Bell admitted prior to qualifying for Wednesday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event that it was a strange feeling to strap on a headset instead of a helmet.
Instead of racing with the rest of the Truck Series field and trying to win for the second time at the Tony Stewart-owned half-mile, Bell will be calling the shots from pit road as part of the FOX Sports 1 broadcast crew during NASCAR’s lone dirt-track race of the year.
An idea sparked by a Tweet from fellow dirt ace and Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson, Bell will share his expertise and knowledge of the dirt world with the national viewing audience, sharing pit road and the infield with Hermie Sadler and Kenny Wallace throughout the day.
“Kyle started this idea and I guess everyone thought it would be a great thing; I know I thought so when they asked me to do this,” said Bell, who is a regular in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing and has two wins this season. “It’s an honor to be here, for sure. It’s a little bit different view, but I think I’ve got a pretty cool job for the night.”
Larson will join Bell on the broadcast, though the former will serve as a color analyst in the booth with play-by-play commentator Vince Welch and Michael Waltrip.
Bell visited the infield media center shortly before the start of two-lap time trials on Wednesday, remarking how odd it was to not be at the drivers meeting and preparing to qualify as he had done the last three years.
“This is weird, man,” said Bell, the 2015 winner of the Dirt Derby. “It’s definitely not something I’m used to, but I think I’m enjoying it already. I’d like to be in a truck … because I’m a racer, but I think this is going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to offer my take to the fans watching at home and around the world tonight.
“Eldora is my favorite race track in the country and the Truck race at Eldora is one of my favorite events of the season, so when this opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to jump on it,” Bell added. “There was no question in my mind.”
As Bell prepared for his television debut, he was asked by SPEED SPORT whether he’d rather be getting ready to qualify a truck.
“I’m not sure, to be honest with you,” he grinned. “I think I like all the perks that come with doing this broadcast deal right now. I’m looking forward to seeing who’s going to take home that Golden Shovel later tonight, though. I think it’s going to be a great race.”
Quizzed on who he thinks will end up in victory lane, Bell was quick in his response.
“I think (Logan) Seavey will have a shot, but the 52 (Stewart Friesen) or the 88 (Matt Crafton) will end up winning it,” he said. “(Kyle) Strickler will be fun to watch … but he didn’t do too well in practice, so I think we’ll have to wait and see how he is in the race.
“It’s going to be fun, though. That’s the bottom line. Everyone’s in for a show tonight!”