NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire Results: Christopher Bell Wins Ambitter 301 to Earn Playoff Spot

NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire Results: Christopher Bell Wins Ambitter 301 to Earn Playoff Spot

As one of the more consistent winless drivers in the Cup Series this season, Christopher Bell had started the race in New Hampshire on Sunday with the last spot on the playoff grid via points and fought to keep it. And thanks to the fight he showed, Bell doesn’t have to worry about points anymore.

After taking the lead from Chase Elliott with 42 laps to go, Bell raced away over the last green flag to win the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, earning his first win of 2022 and second win of his career. career scored. Bell’s only other win was the second race of the 2021 season at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.

Bell now becomes the 14th different driver to win a race in the first 20 races of the season, leaving only two spots available in the NASCAR playoffs on points.

Amber 301 Results

  1. #20 – Christopher Bell
  2. #9 – Chase Elliott
  3. #23 – Bubba Wallace
  4. #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  5. #4 – Kevin Harvick
  6. #11 – Denny Hamlin
  7. #6 – Brad Keselowski
  8. #1 – Ross Chastain
  9. #99 – Daniel Suarez
  10. #45 – Kurt Busch

“It was much needed there. I’ll tell you, that was a great race from my point of view,” Bell told NBC Sports. “…Winning cup races is hard… It seems like we’ve been so close, and then we had lost a bit of weight last week. I spoke to my best friend and I told him early in the year, I felt like we were about to win. And for the last few weeks I felt like we were pretty far away. But here we are today.”

Here’s more on New Hampshire’s fallout and a Christopher Bell win with huge playoff implications.

For whom the bell tolls

Entering New Hampshire, Christopher Bell’s advantage over Kevin Harvick for last place in the playoffs on points was 19 points, making it perfectly possible for Harvick to close that gap and for Bell to potentially lose ground quickly. . But the complexion of the last 100 laps of Sunday’s race changed things completely.

During the first two stages, it looked like Martin Truex Jr. the class of the field and that Harvick might have been the only car that could challenge him for the win. But the final warning of the day before a spin by Todd Gilliland – who led a 93-lap green flag to the finish – changed things completely.

Strategies were split between cars on the first lap and Truex and Harvick were among the drivers who took only two tires on the pit lane. That turned out to be the wrong decision as neither Truex nor Harvick were able to get through traffic early in the run on two tires. The cars that had four tires meanwhile — Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace and others — were able to effectively advance through the field.

Elliott looked like he might be in the best position to take the win as he passed Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Cole Custer – none of them chose to pit – but Bell’s car came alive in the last 50 laps , Elliott run down and then drive off for good when Bell took the lead with 42 to go.

As a result of Bell’s victory, there are now only two spots left for drivers to reach the play-offs on points. Ryan Blaney has a 105-point lead at the cut-line and the maximum stage points during the day have given Truex a 68-point lead at the cut-line. Kevin Harvick now follows Truex by 68 points for last place in the playoffs, and he is the only driver within 100 points of the borderline after Aric Almirola suffered a transmission failure and lost many laps during Sunday’s race.

The way things have shuffled has brought many drivers into the area that needs to be won in order to make the playoffs. It has also created a scenario where two drivers in the top five in points – Blaney and Truex – are in danger of missing the playoffs. And what’s more, there are still six full races left to solve all of this.

Bad Brad is going crazy

Brad Keselowski’s season-long grind to make RFK Racing relevant again may have reached a major turning point on Sunday. After toiling into obscurity for much of the season, Keselowski took a season-best seventh-place finish, but not without a lot of drama.

After a spin from Kyle Busch brought up a mid-race warning, Austin Dillon expressed his dismay at the way Keselowski raced against him by driving up to Keselowski’s door and waving at it from the back. Keselowski continued to turn out on Dillon, he hung a left in Dillon’s door and immediately slammed the fenders with him all the way around the back.

Keselowski sustained significant damage to the left side, but continued to drive and even responded to the contact with Ross Chastain by aggressively running Chastain across the track on the front stretch. After Keselowski’s best performance of the season, the question remained what prompted his meeting with Dillon.

“We’ve been on it a few times over the past two years. One time I hit really hard,” Dillon told NBC Sports. “I just don’t like the way certain people race me. Probably not the right way to do it carefully.”

Dillon said he had no intention of discussing the matter with Keselowski, saying, “I’m not talking to him.” Keselowski, meanwhile, indicated that he would handle the case privately.

“Hot in the cars and the tempers are getting the best of us,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. ‘I will speak to him privately. I don’t have to be a jerk in the media.’

Hubba Bubba

Bubba Wallace has a NASCAR Cup Series win to his credit, and he has also finished second in the Daytona 500 twice. But Sunday may have marked the most complete race of his Cup career from start to finish.

After taking his best qualifying effort in fourth, Wallace rode into second early and rarely left the top 10 for the rest of the day. Wallace executed on the track and his team executed on the pit lane, as best exemplified by their last pit stop: Crew chief Bootie Barker’s call to put on four tires helped Wallace over the last long run, as his fresher tires on the left left him helped to get all the way to third place through the checkered flag.

It was a cathartic result for Wallace, who has had a difficult 2022 season and whose team had… recently made changes to their pit crew after much publicized struggles in the pits that caused Wallace to lose his temper in Nashville a few weeks ago.

“I’m just proud of the team, proud of myself, proud of everyone in the store,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “… (The car) didn’t drive that great, but it had speed, and we knew it. Just the mental preparation, you had to prepare for a long day, and we did. I had no idea where we were running up there.” I knew it was in the top 5. Just the tire management there at the end, and we were able to capitalize.

“Just proud. Just proud of everyone, happy. It’s been hell for me this past month, and so good to come out with a top five.”

Wallace’s third-place finish marked his first-ever Cup Series top five on a circuit less than two miles long. Wallace’s previous top five were all from Daytona and Talladega, Indianapolis Motor Speedway or Pocono Raceway.

Race results overview

  • Kurt Busch gave the best of one of three drivers who chose to hold out the final warning. With neither Busch, Logano or Custer able to make it to the finish line, Busch had a clean final green flag stop and was able to ride all the way back to 10th place at the finish. Custer’s last pit stop was a miscarriage as he took off early as his crew tried to get the right rear wheel off, which resulted in a long stop and relegated him to 27th. Logano tried to stretch his fuel as long as possible, but he pitted with five laps to go and finished 24th.
  • Austin Cindric used strategy to get into the top 10 early in the race, but his day went awry when a right front wheel came loose as he carefully exited his pit box. Cindric would eventually recover and finish 13th, ending his four-race top-10 streak.
  • Harrison Burton led laps for the third week in a row, while staying under one warning to lead on a restart. Burton had been running in the top 10 when his crew suffered an equipment failure on their last stop. Burton never regained his track position and finished 26th.
  • Alex Bowman only got four laps before he was an innocent bystander when Ty Dillon moved the track in front of him and Bowman’s day ended prematurely in a four-car crash. Bowman now has three DNFs in the last four races, continuing a miserable summer streak in which he hasn’t scored a single top-10 finish since Charlotte in May.

Next race

After a trip to New England, the NASCAR Cup Series continues in the northeast with a trip to the mountains and the Pocono Raceway in Pocono, Penn. Pocono will serve as the location of M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.