(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
(AP) -- The path to landing a Cup Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing was bumpy for Christopher Bell, who was hired for the coveted job after the team told Erik Jones he was being let go at the end of the season.
The decision by Gibbs blindsided Jones, who thought talks on a contract extension had been progressing. That was before Leavine Family Racing said it was closing at the end of this season, a decision that could have put Bell out of a job.
The 25-year-old from Oklahoma is a longtime development driver for Toyota, a former Truck Series champion and twice nearly won the Xfinity Series championship driving for Gibbs. With the Leavine seat going away, both Gibbs and Toyota had to find a spot for Bell. It came at the expense of Jones.