Christopher Bell Outperforms Tyler Reddick On Dirt To Win In Bristol

Christopher Bell Outperforms Tyler Reddick On Dirt To Win In Bristol

by April 10, 2023 1 comment

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Christopher Bell held off Tyler Reddick in the closing laps of the Food City Dirt Race to win at Bristol Motor Speedway on Easter Sunday.

On the final lap, Reddick was right on Bell’s back bumper, and he was setting up a final lap attempt to win, but the caution came out due to an accident involving Daniel Suarez, Josh Berry and Ross Chastain. The marked the first of the season for Bell and for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bell led the final 100 laps en route to becoming the first NASCAR Cup Series driver with an extensive dirt racing background to win the unique event.

“Man, those were some of the longest laps of my life,” Bell said. “This place is so much fun whether it’s dirt or concrete and whenever the cushion got up there on the top, it was very, very tough because you couldn’t drive it super hard otherwise you would get sucked in. If you got your right-front into it, you would push a little and if you got your right-rear into it, you would slide. It was just a lot of fun, but just so grateful to be here driving this No. 20 DeWalt Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. That was a lot of fun.”

Reddick has really been on a roll lately. Sunday’s runner-up finish is his second top-two effort in the last three races. Reddick believes that he had a strong 23XI Racing No. 45 SiriusXM Radio Toyota, but he spent valuable time battling Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon. By the time he had reached Bell, his car was used up.

“We definitely had a really strong SiriusXM Toyota Camry TRD and Billy Scott (crew chief) and the guys really left it in my hands from my background to make the decision on what to do there strategy-wise,” Reddick said. “I kind of missed it honestly. I really thought the track was going to go away a lot faster than that so we made the decision to stay out and pit later on. It almost worked out and we restarted eighth or ninth, but I didn’t do a good job on the restart at the beginning of stage three and got behind Kyle (Busch) and Austin (Dillon) and those guys. I think it was the difference of being able to get the Christopher (Bell) and be able to do something. Just wish I would have had that last 20 laps back, but this is the second year in a row I’ve said that.”

Austin Dillon finished Stages 1 and 2 in second-place, but he had to settle for a third-place effort on Sunday. The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 BREZTRI Chevrolet was fast all night long. Dillon started the race in second and stayed up front all night long, but at the end of the night, Bell and Reddick were just faster.

“I had a lot of fun out there,” Dillon said. “Just wasn’t good enough against the fence when it mattered. We needed the track to kind of go back to our run. Right there at the end, we were kind of circling the middle and the car was really good. The No. 3 BREZTRI Chevy was fast, just not enough at the end.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Justin Haley, Martin Truex Jr., Todd Gilliland, Kevin Harvick and Ty Gibbs.

There were 14 cautions for 73 laps throughout the night, but aside from the last-lap crash that ended the race early, the most notable action happened between Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece.

Larson won Stage 1 and led 75 laps, but he retired early from the race after banging doors with Preece. The two drivers made contact early in the race, and then on Lap 171, Preece put the finishing move on Larson. The two drivers were fighting hard for position when they made contact exiting Turn 2. As they raced down the backstretch, Preece appeared to have steered up the track, and the contact took out Larson, who finished 35th after starting on the pole.

“Yeah, I’m guessing he was paying me back for whatever I did earlier,” Larson said. “He ran me straight into the fence and my car was broke and we crashed. It sucks, but I should just be mad at myself for spinning out earlier and putting myself back there. Just sucks.”

Preece, who ended up finishing 24th said, “I think you just get mad getting run in the fence. There was no meaning, it’s just from inside that race car you’re like, ‘I’m not gonna lift.’ When it comes to being run into the fence, every time you lift, if guys see you lifting when you’re at the right-rear corner, they’re just gonna keep running you up in the fence. I think when I meant game over, I meant just not gonna keep lifting and giving that respect of, ‘hey, I’ll give you this room.’ It comes down to that.”

Following Sunday’s race, Bell now leads the standings by 13 points over Chastain.

The NASCAR Cup Series will visit Martinsville Speedway in Virginia this weekend. Live coverage of the NOCO 400 will broadcast live on FS1 at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 16.

Photo Credit: Brandon Zumbach/

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