Christopher Bell cruises to Xfinity win at New Hampshire
It was a clean sweep for Christopher Bell in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start since 2019.
Bell, driving the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing for the first time this season, won Stages 1 and 2 and beat Justin Allgaier by 6.2 seconds to win Saturday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
It’s his 17th career win in the series third at the 1-mile track in Loudon, N.H.
Bell led twice for 151 of the 200 laps, including the final 146.
“What I got figured out is that I have really, really fast race cars to drive. I just love being here with Joe Gibbs Racing,” Bell said. “The Supras I’ve had the last three times I’ve been here have been amazing. I hope my Camry is just as good tomorrow. It feels good to win.
“I think these weekends with no practice and qualifying and you’re not sitting in the car until they drop the green flag, it’s a really big advantage (to drive in Xfinity). Especially a place like here where the Xfinity rules package is similar to the Cup rules package.
“Hopefully it will be very similar and we’ll have a really fast Camry tomorrow. I’m just really proud to be at Joe Gibbs Racing. Everybody does an amazing job.”
Daniel Hemric was third, Austin Cindric was fourth and Harrison Burton rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Justin Haley, Myatt Snider, Josh Berry, Brett Moffitt and Riley Herbst, who spun out early in the race.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pit with Bell the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 99, Bell was followed by Hemric, Allgaier, Cindric and A.J. Allmendinger.
With 75 laps remaining in the race, Bell had expanded his lead over Allgaier to 3.6 seconds as Hemric remained in third.
With 55 laps to go, Hemric finally got around Allgaier to move into second behind Bell.
On Lap 149, a caution was displayed after Patrick Emerling suffered a right-front tire failure. All the lead-lap cars elected to pit, with Bell again the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 156, Bell was followed by Hemric, Cindric, Allgaier and Harrison Burton.
Noah Gragson and Allmendinger made contact on Lap 157, which sent Gragson up the track and into the wall but both continued on without a caution.
With 20 laps remaining, Bell held a comfortable 1.8-second lead over Allgaier while Hemric remained in third.
With five laps to go, Bell had pulled away from Allgaier by 4.4 seconds and appeared to be in clear command of the race.
Bell easily held off Cindric to take the Stage 2 win and complete a sweep of the first two stages.
Hemric was third, Allmendinger fourth and Allgaier completed the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, most of the lead-lap cars pit with Bell the first off pit road.
Brandon Brown did not pit and inherited the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 53.
Allmendinger quickly worked his way around Brown and into the lead after the restart as Bell moved into second.
Bell got around Allmendinger on Lap 55 to reclaim the lead.
With 20 laps to go in the stage, Bell held a 1.6-second lead over Cindric as Allmendinger ran third and Hemric fourth.
With five laps remaining, Bell’s lead over Cindric had expanded to 3.3 seconds while Hemric moved to third, 5.5 seconds behind the leader.
Bell passed Allmendinger on the final lap just as a caution was displayed for a wreck involving Tommy Joe Martins, which handed Bell the Stage 1 win under caution.
Allmendinger was second, Harrison Burton third, Cindric fourth and Hemric rounded out the top-five.
Jeb Burton started on the pole and led the first 16 laps until his teammate, Allmendinger, got around him to move into the top spot on Lap 17.
NASCAR displayed a competition caution on Lap 22 to allow teams to check for tire wear. Most of the lead-lap cars remained on the track.
The race returned to green on Lap 26 with Allmendinger out front followed by Haley and Cindric.
Almost immediately, the caution came back out as Herbst got spun on the frontstretch in an incident that collected several other cars, including Brandon Jones, Sam Mayer and Allgaier.
The race resumed on Lap 31 with Allmendinger leading with Cindric in second and Haley third.
With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Allmendinger held about a half-second lead over Harrison Burton as Bell ran third.
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