Christopher Bell Wins at New Hampshire and Hopefully has his Ticket to the Playoffs

AP Photo/ Charles Krupa

LOUDON, NH – RIS – Christopher Bell came on late and drove to victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway,  Bell is the 14th driver to earn a spot in the 16-driver playoff field. With six races left in the regular season, it leaves open the possibility that more than 16 drivers could win a race and the final playoff spot or spots would be decided on points.

“That one was much needed right there,” Bell said.

Bell had success at the track in the Xfinity Series.  He won there in 2018, 2019, and 2021, but never in the Cup Series.  He took care of that today.  He ran down then-leader Chase Elliott and the race laps dwindled down.  Elliott had nothing for the No. 20 Toyota in those final laps, but kept his runner-up status intact at the end.  His only other Cup win came in 2021 season at the road course at Daytona International Speedway.

Bubba Wallace was third for 23XI Racing. Martin Truex Jr. dominated early and finished fourth. and Kevin Harvick completed the top five. Bell led JGR to its fourth win this season and 12th at New Hampshire.

Bell anticipated winning at the track where he dominated in Xfinity and wasn’t so sure about getting the “trophy for winning there—a live lobster.

“Earlier in the year, I felt like we were right on the verge of winning,” Bell said. “In the last couple of weeks, I thought we were pretty far away. Now, here we are today.”

The driver who dominated the race fell short at the end.  Truex won the first two stages and led 172 laps before he faded after a poor pit stop and finished fourth. Truex won the first two stages and led 172 laps before he faded after a poor pit stop and finished fourth. Truex dominated early from the pole and seemed poised to snap a season-long winless drought. Without a win, Truex is on the playoff bubble, as are many others including Kevin Harvick, who has won here.  His finish in the top five was improvement this season, but it appears a win must come for the former Cup champion to compete in the playoffs.

Tempers did show in the last section of the race.  Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon used their cars as battering rams midway through the race. Dillon hit Keselowski in the door on the backstretch. Keselowski retaliated and smacked Dillon on the passenger’s side of the car and ran him off the track. Harvick later turned Dillon coming off pit road. 

Next for the Cup drivers is Pocono Raceway for its only stop of the year. The track long held two Cup races each year and Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch won the races in a doubleheader weekend last year.  The three-cornered track will see only one Cup race in 2022.

Unofficial Results: 30th Annual Ambetter 301, July 17, 2022 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, Sta2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 5, Christopher Bell, No. 20 Rheem/WATTS Toyota, 301, 6, 9, 1, 42, 5, 47, Running
2) 2, Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 301, 4, 3, 1, 13, , 50, Running
3) 4, Bubba Wallace, No. 23 Draft Kings Toyota, 301, 2, 10, , , , 44, Running
4) 1, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota, 301, 1, 1, 3, 172, 2, 53, Running
5) 10, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford, 301, 5, 2, , , , 47, Running
6) 14, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, 301, 10, , , , , 32, Running
7) 9, Brad Keselowski, No. 6 Kohler Generators Ford, 301, , , , , , 30, Running
8) 18, Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, 301, , 7, , , , 33, Running
9) 19, Daniel Suarez, No. 99 SLAM! Chevrolet, 301, , , , , , 28, Running
10) 3, Kurt Busch, No. 45 SiriusXM Radio Toyota, 301, 7, 6, 1, 40, , 36, Running
11) 6, William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, 301, 9, 8, , , , 31, Running
12) 17, Kyle Busch, No. 18 DeWalt Toyota, 301, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 28, Austin Cindric #, No. 2 Autotrader Ford, 301, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 8, Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 300, 3, 5, , , , 37, Running
15) 29, Chase Briscoe, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford, 300, , , 1, 6, , 22, Running
16) 20, AJ Allmendinger(i), No. 16 Gold Fish Casino Slots Chevrolet, 300, , , , , , 0, Running
17) 16, Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 300, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 11, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Libman Ford, 300, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 22, Erik Jones, No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, 300, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 25, Justin Haley, No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, 300, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 13, Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Guaranteed Rate Chevrolet, 300, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 24, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger/Minute Rice Chevrolet, 300, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 30, Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet, 300, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 12, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 300, , 4, 1, 25, , 20, Running
25) 26, Todd Gilliland #, No. 38 Chicago Pneumatic Compressors Ford, 300, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 31, Harrison Burton #, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, 300, , , 1, 3, , 11, Running
27) 23, Cole Custer, No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford, 300, , , , , , 10, Running
28) 15, Michael McDowell, No. 34 FloRacing Ford, 299, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 33, JJ Yeley(i), No. 15 Adirondack Tree Surgeons Ford, 299, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 36, Cody Ware, No. 51 Nurtec ODT Ford, 297, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 7, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 282, 8, , , , , 9, Running
32) 21, Corey LaJoie, No. 7 Built.com Chevrolet, 88, , , , , , 5, Accident
33) 35, Ty Dillon, No. 42 Allegiant Chevrolet, 5, , , , , , 4, Accident
34) 34, Josh Bilicki(i), No. 77 Zeigler Auto/Ditec Marine Chevrolet, 5, , , , , , 0, Accident
35) 27, Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 4, , , , , , 2, Accident
36) 32, BJ McLeod(i), No. 78 MyMochi Ice Cream Ford, 4, , , , , , 0, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Race Length: 301 laps, 318.458 miles
Time of Race: 3 hrs, 14 mins, 45 secs.
Average Speed: 98.113 mph
Margin of Victory: 5.439 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 19, 23, 5, 9, 4, 20, 45, 10, 24, 11
Stage 2 Top 10: 19, 4, 9, 22, 5, 45, 1, 24, 20, 23

Comments: Christopher Bell won the 30th running of the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, his second victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Cautions: 9 for 52 laps;
Laps: 6-12 (No. 48, 77, 42 , 78, 31 Incident Backstretch [None]);
72-77 (Stage 1 Conclusion [21]);
79-83 (No. 18 Spin Backstretch [7]);
90-100 (No. 34, 21, 7 Incident Turn 2 [3]);
147-151 (No. 12 Incident Turn 4 [31]);
153-156 (No. 14 Spin Turn 4 [47]);
164-167 (No. 18 Spin Frontstretch [34]);
187-192 (Stage 2 Conclusion [15]);
206-209 (No. 38 Incident Turn 4 [2]).

Lead Changes: 8 among 7 drivers;
M. Truex Jr. 1-95;
J. Logano 96-120;
M. Truex Jr. 121-188;
H. Burton # 189-191;
C. Briscoe 192-197;
M. Truex Jr. 198-206;
K. Busch 207-246;
C. Elliott 247-259;
C. Bell 260-301.

Busch Light Pole Award: Martin Truex, No. 19
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Austin Cindric, No. 2

Ronald Fleshman with John Davison

Ron Fleshman is NASCAR Editor at Ris-News.com

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Volume 2022, Issue 7, Posted 7:58 PM, 07.17.2022