Driver Christopher Bell wins wild NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire

Christopher Bell wins wild NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire
from Samuel Stubbs, with YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com

After nearly six hours — including a two hour and 14 minute red flag for weather — Christopher Bell proved he’s still the king of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The Norman, Oklahoma native won Stage 1 and went on to control the final few restarts of what turned out to be a wild USA Today 301. The win marked a weekend sweep for Bell after an overtime triumph in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday.

After rain started coming down on Lap 220, Sunday’s race was forced into a hold. Rather than calling the race, however, NASCAR showed it wasn’t afraid to branch out, putting wet weather tires on Cup Series cars for the first time on an oval.

Running ninth when the red flag came out, Bell quickly moved through the field when the race resumed after the red flag, eventually taking the lead and never looking back, despite challenges from the likes of Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry.

The win marks Bell’s third victory of the season, tying him with Kyle Larson, William Byron and Denny Hamlin for the most wins in the Cup Series.

With the long delay for weather, it was Tyler Reddick in front with 82 laps to go. Unfortunately, Reddick’s rain dance didn’t work, and while Reddick drifted back in the race’s final stint, he still earned his 11th top-10 finish of the season, ending the race in sixth place.

Bell’s teammate and defending Loudon winner Martin Truex clawed back for a ninth-place finish, which was no small feat. While Truex led his share of laps in Sunday’s race, a slow pit stop left him as far down in the running order as 27th, and soon after the slow stop, a crash damaged Truex’s No. 19 Camry.

However, Truex found speed with the wet-weather tires, earning a top-10 effort for his troubles.

Stewart-Haas Racing seemed to be the only team to completely figure out the wet-weather tires, as the No. 14 of Chase Briscoe and the No. 4 of Josh Berry finished second and third, respectively.

Even Ryan Preece, who has struggled to find speed for much of the 2024 season managed to bring home his Ford Mustang in 11th.

Todd Gilliland, Michael McDowell and Justin Haley all found themselves running inside the top-five within the final 80 laps, but a spin by McDowell and poor lane choice by Haley on the final restart sent them to finishes of 15th and 29th, respectively.

After running inside the top-five for much of the race’s final stint, Gilliland fell to a 12th-place finish.

McDowell’s spin also took out Iowa winner Ryan Blaney, who was relegated to a 25th place finish after McDowell got loose under him, spinning both cars around in the middle of Turn 1.

After being mired around 15th place for much of the day, Kyle Larson found speed on the wet-weather tires, eventually snagging a top-five finish that made Larson the only Hendrick Motorsports car to finish in the top-17. Chris Buescher also used the wet-weather tires to his advantage, finishing fifth.

Ricky Stenhouse grabbed his second consecutive top-10 finish with a seventh-place effort, while John Hunter Nemechek snagged a much needed eighth-place result. Ross Chastain rounded out the top-10, battling back to finish 10th after a late-race spin.

The other notable storyline from Sunday’s race was Kyle Busch, who finished 35th — his third sub 30th place finish in the last four races — after being lapped on pace multiple times and being involved in three incidents, the last of which totaled Busch’s No. 8 Camaro.

Other notable finishers from Sunday’s USA Today 301 include Chase Elliott in 18th, Denny Hamlin in 24th, William Byron in 26th, Joey Logano in 32nd and Bubba Wallace in 34th. Alex Bowman finished last in Sunday’s race after an engine failure in Stage 2 proved to be terminal.

The next test for the NASCAR Cup Series will come next Sunday at the Nashville Superspeedway. The second half of the Cup Series season will officially kick off with the Ally 400, which is set to go green shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET on June 29. Coverage will be provided on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.