Bell wins at Homestead to punch Championship 4 ticket

Christopher Bell. Image: James Gilbert

Christopher Bell. Image: James Gilbert

Christopher Bell punched his ticket to the NASCAR Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with another walk-off win.

Bell scored his second win of 2023 and his first at Homestead.

Martin Truex Jnr led the field to the green, but it was Kyle Larson taking the lead late in Stage 1. Drivers utilised the ‘Larson line’ (the highest possible groove of a NASCAR race track) to better gain time on the leaders, and multiple drivers swapped the lead in the first stage.

However, a spin by the reigning Daytona 500 champion, Ricky Stenhouse Jnr, on Lap 77 prompted an early end to Stage 1 with Kyle Larson taking the win.

No Cautions occurred during the duration of Stage 2, however, there was a lot of activity in the back of the field.

Mechanical failures plagued Harrison Burton and Josh Bilicki, who had their days end early.

Truex Jnr capitalised on his loss in Stage 1 to take the Stage 2 victory.

Despite the clean second stage, Stage 3 was a whirlwind to start off.

Lots of passing occurred, but during green flag pit stops on Lap 213, Kyle Larson clipped the rear end of Ryan Blaney’s car and Blaney spun while Larson hit the sand barrels outside of pit road.

The Caution came out on Lap 214, and Larson fell out of the race on Lap 214. This did not dampen Larson’s season as he already scored a victory and his trip to the Championship 4 in Phoenix.

The red flag was brought out on Lap 217.

After a 25-minute clean-up, the race resumed on Lap 221. Not even a lap into the restart, a crash occurred off Turn 2 with Ross Chastain, JJ Yeley, and John Hunter Nemechek crashing on the backstretch.

The race restarted on Lap 230 but, shortly after, two more of the most dominant cars of the day had issues.

Denny Hamlin hit the wall in Turn 1, causing front-end suspension issues and it ultimately ended his race, while his team-mate Truex Jnr took the lead.

Truex, however, had issues of his own as he blew an engine in turn three on Lap 234.

The late-race Caution allowed Bell to surge ahead past Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, and William Byron to take the lead, and ultimately win the race and win his way into the Championship 4 with yet another walk-off win as he was fifth in points, -2 out of the playoffs.

Bell and Kyle Larson are the two drivers currently locked into the Championship 4.

The next NASCAR Cup Series race will take place at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 29 and it will set the final four drivers who will compete for the NASCAR Cup Series championship on November 5 at Phoenix Raceway.

Playoff standings:

  1. Kyle Larson Adv.
  2. Christopher Bell Adv.
  3. William Byron +30
  4. Ryan Blaney +10
  5. Tyler Reddick -10
  6. Martin Truex, Jr. -17
  7. Denny Hamlin -17
  8. Chris Buescher -43

*Byron can lock into the Championship 4 no later than the end of Stage 2 at Martinsville and Buescher is in a must-win situation in order to advance to the Championship 4

Race results

  1. Christopher Bell
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Tyler Reddick
  4. William Byron
  5. AJ Allmendinger
  6. Bubba Wallace
  7. Ty Gibbs #
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Aric Almirola
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Austin Cindric
  13. Ryan Preece
  14. Erik Jones
  15. Chase Elliott
  16. Daniel Suárez
  17. Chase Briscoe
  18. Kyle Busch
  19. Alex Bowman
  20. Corey LaJoie
  21. Chris Buescher
  22. Michael McDowell
  23. Justin Haley
  24. Ty Dillon
  25. Todd Gilliland
  26. Ryan Newman *
  27. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
  28. Brad Keselowski
  29. Martin Truex, Jr.
  30. Denny Hamlin
  31. Ross Chastain
  32. John Hunter Nemechek *
  33. J.J. Yeley *
  34. Kyle Larson
  35. Josh Bilicki
  36. Harrison Burton

* indicates a driver ineligible for NASCAR Cup Series points
# indicates a rookie driver

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