Christopher Bell crashes NASCAR Playground Playoff with win in New Hampshire

Loudoun, New Hampshire – Crew chief Christopher Bell tried to give him a little practice – some encouragement with about 40 laps left in the race, victory and eloquence at stake – and he was immediately told, well, basically. .

“He told me he got it under control, and he clearly did,” said Crew Chief Adam Stevens with a laugh.

Bell later clarified that there were so many laps left in the race, that he didn’t need a reminder of how far Toyota #20 would have to go to reach the finish line.

In addition, Bell already knew how to get to Victory Lane on his preferred path.

Bale smashed the NASCAR playoffs — and stressed the pressure on the remaining drivers without a win — with Sunday’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to become the 14th winner of the Cup Series this season.

“This guy was really needed right there,” said the 27-year-old Bell.

Bell mastered the circuit as he won Xfinity Series races in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and was second in the Cup race last year, beating Chase Elliott – last week’s winner at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bale is the 14th driver to earn a spot on the 16-driver arena. With six races remaining in the regular season, it leaves open the possibility of more than 16 drivers winning a race, and the venue for the final, or points-based, will be decided.

That’s a worry for another day for Bill.

Team owner Joe Gibbs said “That car wasn’t very good when I started racing. It was in the middle of the group. It was struggling. In the end, they made it go in the right direction.”

Bill Elliott chased late and drove the last 42 laps of Joe Gibbs Racing. His only other trophy win came in the second race of the 2021 season at the Daytona Road Race.

Elliott placed second in Hendrick Motorsports while Bubba Wallace finished third in 23XI Racing. Martin Truex Jr dominated early and finished fourth and Kevin Harvick completed the top five.

Wallace said, “We had no idea what we were running there in the end. I knew it was in the top five. But just running the tires there at the end, and we were able to take advantage of it. Just proud of everyone. Happy. It was hell for me.” Last month, so it’s good to come out with the top 5 players.

Elliott, who had led by 13 laps in total when Bale caught him, finished first or second for the fourth race in a row.

“We were in a situation where guys at this level have to finish the race if I get the lead like that,” Elliott said. “Just a poor effort on my part.”

Bell led the GGR team to its fourth win of the season and twelfth place in New Hampshire.

Bale was one of those drivers who would have had to worry about his chances in the supplement for the remainder of the summer. He entered the race 16th in the points standings – 19 above the cut-off line. Bale grabbed five consecutive top 10 spots over the course of May and June before facing a final whirlwind with only one finish better than 18th over his last four games.

“If your race car is fast, and you have a car in first place, it’s very easy to get there as long as you do your job,” Bell said. This race. Basically, Phase 3 was my fastest car ever, especially in the long run. I did my job to maximize it. ”

JGR, which supplies pits crews for 23XI Racing, switched team members earlier this month with the Wallace crew.

Bell’s biggest fear on Sunday was trying to handle the 21-pound lobster awarded to the winner.

“Earlier in the year, I felt like we were on the cusp of a win,” Bell said. “The past two weeks, I thought we were a long way off. Now, we’re here today.”

Bell has yet to work on expanding his fan club in New England. He gave his Xfinity flag last season to the only young boy he saw in the stands wearing a Bale jersey. Before Sunday’s race, Bell promised a jersey kid at an earlier event hosted by his sponsor that he would give him the square flag with a win.

He said, “I did.”

TRUEEX FADE

Truex won the first two stages and drove 172 laps before fading out after a poor pit stop and finishing fourth. Truex dominated early from the top spot and seemed ready to tackle an unending drought throughout the season. Without a win, Truex is in the playoff bubble. Ryan Blaney is third in the points standings and Truex is fourth, however both will likely miss the playoffs without a win. This is the third time in the last 20 years (2002, 2003, 2011) there have been 14 winners in the first 20 races.

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Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon used their cars as lightning rams under a midway warning during the race. Dillon Kiselovsky hit in the door on the back. Kiselovsky retaliated and hit Dillon on the passenger side of the car and pushed him off the track.

“We’ve been to it a few times over the past two years,” Dillon said. “One time, it hit hard. I just don’t like the way some people race me.”

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The NASCAR Cup Series is heading to the Pocono Raceway for its only stop of the year. The track has long seen two Cup races each year and Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch won the races in a double-header weekend last year.