Christopher Bell #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

NASCAR News: Christopher Bell runs away in Phoenix

Christopher Bell drove away from the field after a late pit stop for to claim his first NASCAR Cup win of 2024 at Phoenix.

Bell’s Margin of victory 5.465s, the largest MOV in the Next Gen era since New Hampshire 2022 where Bell won by 5.439s

The final caution of the 312-lap race came on lap 214 when Denny Hamlin spun while racing Tyler Reddick for the lead. That was the third caution in a 20-lap span, and many drivers took the opportunity to stay out on track to steal some track position.

Truex was one of them. He was third behind Reddick and Hamlin at the time of the caution and inherited the lead by staying out. Bell, meanwhile, was one of the drivers who pitted.

Truex, however, didn’t have enough gas to make it to the end of the race. And as the race ran caution-free to the end, Truex’s hopes of winning dwindled.

As Truex led laps hoping for a caution, Bell drove through the field. Bell had perhaps the fastest car throughout the second half of the race, but had to regain some track position after the second stage because of a slow pit stop. As Bell picked off cars one by one, Truex hit pit road with 41 laps to go.

That pit stop gave Bell the lead as he went on to win by approximately six seconds over Chris Buescher. JGR’s Ty Gibbs was in third ahead of Brad Keselowski and 2023 Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney.

Bell and his Camry compatriots turned that statistic upside down on Sunday, combining to lead 298 of 312 laps. After Denny Hamlin started from the pole position, all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers led significant numbers of laps – Hamlin with 68, Ty Gibbs with 57, Martin Truex Jr. with 55 and Bell with 50.

Tyler Reddick, a 23XI Toyota driver, contributed 68 laps led, as Bell ended Chevrolet’s three-race winning streak to start the season.

And while some drivers had difficulty in dirty air, Bell’s No. 20 Camry had no trouble passing cars, coming from 20th on a restart on Lap 221 to claim the lead and beat Ford driver and runner-up Chris Buescher to the finish line by a distant 5.465 seconds.

“Man, this one feels really good,” said Bell, who was eliminated from last year’s Championship 4 race at Phoenix when a brake rotor exploded. “Just a credit to (crew chief) Adam (Stevens), man. Adam, my engineers… all the mechanics on this thing.

“You don’t get cars like that very often, as you know. Just super, super proud. Proud to be on this 20 car. This Rheem Camry was amazing today. I feel like we have capability of running races like this a lot. Hopefully, this is the first of many this year.”

The victory was Bell’s first at Phoenix and the seventh of his career.

With the final 92 laps running caution-free, Truex had to pit for fuel and tires on Lap 272, surrendering the lead to Bell, who held it the rest of the way.

After crashing out in 37th place last Sunday at Las Vegas, Buescher was happy with his solid second-place run.

“I didn’t quite see the 20 (Bell) there at the end, so I know they were lights-out,” Buescher said. “We have some work to do to get to that point. What thrills me is we were by no means perfect on balance, so we have a lot of room to make this thing better, which is awesome.”

Gibbs, who regained track position with a two-tire pit stop on Lap 218, came home third, a career-best finish. Brad Keselowski ran fourth, two spots behind his Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing teammate; and reigning Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney drove home fifth, ending a streak of three straight runner-up finishes at the 1-mile track in the Sonoran Desert.

Ross Chastain, a Phoenix winner last November, was sixth, and Truex worked his way through the field on fresher tires to finish seventh. Michael McDowell, Chase Briscoe and Reddick completed the top 10. Hamlin finished 11th after his Lap 215 spin.

Blaney overtook 14th-place finisher Kyle Larson for the series lead. He leaves Phoenix 10 points ahead of Larson and Truex, who are tied for second in the standings.

Phoenix Cup Race Results

Pos Str No. Driver Team Laps Laps Led Status
1 13 20 Christopher Bell Rheem Toyota 312 50 Running
2 14 17 Chris Buescher Ford 312 0 Running
3 2 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota 312 57 Running
4 18 6 Brad Keselowski Consumer Cellular Ford 312 0 Running
5 16 12 Ryan Blaney Advance Auto Parts Ford 312 0 Running
6 12 1 Ross Chastain Kubota Chevrolet 312 0 Running
7 11 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 312 55 Running
8 9 34 Michael McDowell Horizon Hobby Ford 312 0 Running
9 8 14 Chase Briscoe Mahindra Tractors Ford 312 0 Running
10 6 45 Tyler Reddick Mobil 1 Toyota 312 68 Running
11 1 11 Denny Hamlin Mavis Brakes Plus Toyota 312 68 Running
12 7 10 Noah Gragson SERVPRO Ford 312 0 Running
13 15 99 Daniel Suarez Freeway Insurance Chevrolet 312 0 Running
14 17 5 Kyle Larson Valvoline Chevrolet 312 0 Running
15 10 77 Carson Hocevar # Delaware Life Chevrolet 312 0 Running
16 22 23 Bubba Wallace U.S. Air Force Toyota 312 0 Running
17 29 38 Todd Gilliland gener8tor Ford 312 14 Running
18 5 24 William Byron Chevrolet 312 0 Running
19 3 9 Chase Elliott Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet 312 0 Running
20 25 48 Alex Bowman Ally Best Friends Chevrolet 312 0 Running
21 20 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fry’s/Coca-Cola Spiced Chevrolet 312 0 Running
22 31 8 Kyle Busch zone Chevrolet 311 0 Running
23 27 41 Ryan Preece United Rentals Ford 311 0 Running
24 33 51 Justin Haley Fraternal Order of Eagles Ford 311 0 Running
25 19 42 John Hunter Nemechek Albertson’s Toyota 311 0 Running
26 36 4 Josh Berry # SunnyD Ford 310 0 Running
27 24 21 Harrison Burton Draiver Ford 310 0 Running
28 21 31 Daniel Hemric Poppy Bank Chevrolet 310 0 Running
29 28 71 Zane Smith # Focused Health Chevrolet 309 0 Running
30 32 15 Kaz Grala # N29 Capital Partners Ford 309 0 Running
31 4 43 Erik Jones Family Dollar Toyota 305 0 Running
32 30 3 Austin Dillon Morgan & Morgan Chevrolet 304 0 Running
33 35 7 Corey LaJoie Group 1001 Chevrolet 204 0 Accident
34 23 22 Joey Logano Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford 203 0 Accident
35 26 16 Derek Kraus Western States Flooring Chevrolet 203 0 Accident
36 34 2 Austin Cindric Menards/Duracell Ford 6 0 Accident
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