And then there were eight. Following Christopher Bell’s victory in the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course Sunday, the field is down to eight in the fight for the NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Bell needed a win and that’s exactly what he got, as his playoff hopes received a lifeline after his No. 20 Dewalt Toyota Camry crossed the checkered line first.
The odds seemed insurmountable for Bell coming into the race. At the time the green flag waved, Bell sat eleventh in the points standings, 45 points behind Daniel Suarez for the final playoff spot. Bell picked up fresh tires on a last-ditch effort pit stop late in the race. That move proved to be the difference, as Bell whizzed past the field and outlasted Kevin Harvick by 1.7 seconds to win.
“I was the first one on new tires,” Bell told NBC‘s Marty Snider after the race. “I guess we’ll roll the dice and see what happens. When I got into Turn 1, my spotter did amazing job. They all started wrecking. That kept me out of the junk in Turn 1.”
As it would turn out, it was Suarez who found himself on the outside looking in of championship contention. But more notably, however, Bell’s victory had major implications for Kyle Larson.
Kyle Larson’s Back-to-Back Hopes End Following Christopher Bell’s Victory
Larson finished 35th after he made contact with the wall earlier in the race. There was nothing much Larson could do as he watched his points gap with the cut-line dwindle. The defending Cup Series champion was officially eliminated after not only Bell’s victory, but after Chase Briscoe raced his No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang to a ninth place finish. Briscoe leaped Larson in the points standings and is one of the remaining eight.
“Obviously mad at myself,” Larson told NBC after the race. “My team did a great job today and I just messed up for no reason. Got loose, hit the wall and broke a part. It’s tough when it’s on you, but my team did a great job all year I just made way too many mistakes all year long and again today.”
This story is developing…