Okies in NASCAR Cup Series: Christopher Bell on way to becoming most prominent Oklahoman in NASCAR's elite series
Christopher Bell is on his way to becoming the most accomplished Oklahoman to drive in the NASCAR Cup Series as the Norman native prepares for his debut race, the Daytona 500, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, airing on Fox.
Bell, 25, is already the only Oklahoma native to win a race in one of NASCAR’s top three series, having won 16 times on the Xfinity Series and seven times in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 128 total races.
On Sunday when he makes his Cup debut in the No. 95 car of Leavine Family Racing, he’ll become only the second Oklahoman to run in Daytona, the Super Bowl of NASCAR.
Here are the other Oklahomans who have reached the NASCAR Cup series, four of whom participated in only one race:
Troy Ruttman, Mooreland: Until Bell joins him on Sunday afternoon, Ruttman will stand alone as the only Oklahoman to race in the Daytona 500, one of his seven career Cup races in 1962-64. Ruttman had five top-10 finishes in those races, once finishing as high as third. He took 12th at Daytona, six spots behind legendary racer Richard Petty. But Ruttman is better known for his Formula One racing career. He ran only eight races in 1950-1960, but won the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 at age 22, and is still the youngest driver ever to win that celebrated race.
Randy Ogden, Woodward: His 10 Cup races in 1979-1981 are the most by an Oklahoman, though he withdrew at Daytona in 1980. His best finish was 15th at Riverside International Raceway in California in 1981.
Tanner Berryhill, Bixby: The most recent Cup racer prior to Bell, Berryhill ran two races in 2018, with a best finish of 31st at Phoenix.
Augie Howerton, Tulsa: Took eighth in the race at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in 1956, his only race in what was then known as the NASCAR Grand National Series.
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Jack Zink, Tulsa: Finished 12th at the Oklahoma City race in 1956, his only Cup appearance.
Leroy DeShields, Oklahoma City: Ran one race in 1956, finishing 28th at Phoenix.
Bob Eichlor, Oklahoma City: Ran the Atlanta race in 1960, finishing 39th.
Note: Statistics via Racing-reference.com.