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NASCAR Cup Series: Bell takes first win of the season

Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

After two consecutive DNFs, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell took his first victory of the 2024 season at Phoenix Raceway. It was Bell’s seventh career win, and his first top-three finish since the Daytona 500.

From practice, a potential domination by the Toyotas looked on the cards. It started off well for them as they led with Ty Gibbs, but a crash on lap five immediately brought out the caution. Involved in the crash were Kaulig’s Derek Kraus, RCR’s Austin Dillon and Penske’s Austin Cindric – the latter receiving terminal damage from the accident.

Once the green flag flew, affairs remained calm. Gibbs led until lap 57 when 23XI’s Tyler Reddick caught and passed his fellow Toyota driver easily. From there, he cruised to the stage victory with Ty following behind.

During the second stage, more clean racing ensued, but Bell came alive, as he took the lead early in the stage from teammate Denny Hamlin. Stage two remained stagnant caution-wise, and Bell took his first stage win of the season with stage one winner Tyler Reddick second.

The beginning of the final stage saw drama begin to unfold. It began with RCR’s Kyle Busch: already having a poor day – running 25th and two laps down – he spun around in turn one on lap 197 in a single-car incident.

The ensuing restart on lap 205 saw two-time champion Joey Logano and sophomore LMC driver John Hunter Nemechek come into contact. This sent Logano around in turn one, and he was hit by Spire drivers Corey LaJoie and Zane Smith. The Penske driver would not be able to resume in the race.

On the next restart, the yellow flag was immediately waved again – this time for one of the dominant forces of the top three, Denny Hamlin. Battling hard with Reddick in turn one, the three-time Daytona 500 winner washed up and spun around off of the #45 car. Although, he would be able to continue in the race.

From the next restart, it would be clean to the end. Despite challenges from fellow Toyotas as well as some Fords, Christopher Bell cruised to his first victory of the season, redeeming his DNF from the 2023 finale at the same track. 

Chris Buescher’s car came alive at the end to take him to second, while Ty Gibbs achieved his best-career finish with third, Buescher’s teammate Brad Keselowski was in fourth, and rounding out the top five was Ryan Blaney. Notably and surprisingly, the only Chevrolet to finish inside the top 12 was Ross Chastain, who finished sixth.

Catch the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 – NASCAR’s first short-track race of the season.


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