The Joe Gibbs Racing driver currently holds the NASCAR record for the most Xfinity Series wins during a rookie season. He won seven races while driving the No. 20 Toyota, including three straight in the middle of the year. Though he ultimately finished fourth in the championship standings while Tyler Reddick won the season finale.
This 2018 season was historic for Bell. His win at Richmond Raceway on September 21, 2018, tied the previous mark (five) set by Greg Biffle in 2001. Bell then broke the tie two weeks later at Dover Motor Speedway. His seventh win of the season (Phoenix) set a new mark to beat.
4 Drivers Have Won 5 Races During Their Rookie Seasons
Biffle won five races during his rookie Busch Grand National Series — now Xfinity Series — season. He passed a mark previously set by Steve Park (three in 1997) by capturing races at Nashville Superspeedway, Nazareth Speedway, Milwaukee Mile, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
Since Biffle set the record, three other drivers have matched it. Kyle Busch won five races during his rookie season with Hendrick Motorsports (2004). This run began at Richmond Raceway and ended at Michigan International Speedway.
One year later, Carl Edwards tied Busch and Biffle. He won five races and became the second Roush driver to achieve the feat. Edwards began his run at Atlanta Motor Speedway and then he conquered Richmond Raceway, Kentucky Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
Bell was the third driver to win five races as a rookie, but he was the first to do so in a Toyota. He also went on to break the record and set a new mark that has remained since 2018’s finale.
Questions Remain About Xfinity Series Rookies
Bell set this historic mark in 2018. He has since moved on to the Cup Series while other Xfinity Series rookies have attempted to win more races. Some have come close, but none have achieved this goal.
Harrison Burton is one example. Bell’s former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate won four races during the 2020 season. One year later, Ty Gibbs won four races while running a part-time Xfinity Series schedule.
There are now questions about which driver could chase down Bell’s mark, but there aren’t many options. The Xfinity Series lineup remains largely unknown as several teams have yet to announce their plans.
For example, Sammy Smith is expected to move up to the Xfinity Series on a full-time basis, but Joe Gibbs Racing has not made any announcements about his status yet.
The main option currently is Chandler Smith. The five-time Camping World Truck Series winner will move up to the Xfinity Series. He will join Kaulig Racing for his rookie season, and he will take over a stock car that reached Victory Lane five times in 2022.
There is no guarantee that Smith will win multiple races during his rookie season, let alone one. However, he will be a prominent name to watch as the 2023 Xfinity Series season approaches.