Christopher Bell Takes Checkered Flag at New Hampshire, Qualifies for NASCAR Playoffs

by Nick Geddes

For just the second time in his NASCAR Cup Series career, Christopher Bell is a winner.

Bell’s No. 20 Ford Mustang crossed the finish line first Sunday in the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Bell pulled away from Cup standings leader Chase Elliott to notch his first victory since O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 in Feb. 2021. The win gives Bell automatic qualification into the NASCAR Playoffs.

“I feel like we could’ve won a couple of them this year, we finally got one. Hopefully we’ve a couple more left,” Bell said after the victory.

You can Call Christopher Bell “Mr. New Hampshire”

At this point in his young career, it’s fair to label Bell as “Mr. New Hampshire.” The moniker suits him nicely, as Bell’s resumé at New Hampshire is unmatched. Entering Sunday, Bell was 3-for-3 in Xfinity races at the track. In the Cup race last season at New Hampshire, Bell finished 2nd.

Bell, 27, is the latest winner in what has been a crazy Cup Series season. The Norman, Oklahoma, native is the 14th different winner this season. That suddenly leaves winless Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the cutoff spot despite being fifth in points.

Truex Jr. came in as the pole-sitter and had the best car for majority of the day, leading the first 70 laps during stage 1. He followed that up with a stage 2 victory, but was unable to keep his momentum in the third and final stage. He led 172 laps, but after taking just two tires on the final pit stop, his car simply wouldn’t go.

“Put on two tires and got in a bad spot on the restart. I shoved [Joey] Logano to get him going and got in a bad spot,” Truex Jr. told Bret McMillan of Performance Racing Network. “My car was terrible on two tires. I couldn’t go anywhere. Should’ve put four on, I guess.”