Bell Rings In Another “Magic Mile” Triumph In The SciAps 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race

Bell Rings In Another “Magic Mile” Triumph In The SciAps 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race

by June 23, 2024 0 comments

LOUDON, N.H. – Make it four for four at “The Magic Mile” for one of America’s best talents behind the wheel.

Christopher Bell, in a spot start inside the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, won his fourth NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) race in four starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) with an overtime victory in the SciAps 200 on Saturday afternoon.

On the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish, Sheldon Creed was in the middle and just ahead of Bell to the inside and Cole Custer to the outside as the trio crossed the Granite Stripe start-finish line. Bell inched ahead entering turn one and began to pull away along the backstretch for an eventual quarter-of-a-second (.254) victory over Creed, his JGR teammate.

“We got really lucky there,” said Bell after completing the first final lap pass for a victory in an NXS race at New Hampshire. “I feel so bad for Sheldon. He’s really been close to winning one of these things. Coming to the white flag, he got Cole loose and gave room to me. I was just really fortunate.”

The 29-year-old from Norman, Okla. will try to complete a double-victory weekend on Sunday in the USA TODAY 301 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race at 2 p.m.

“It’s just enjoyable to go out there and race and drive these cars,” said Bell, who earned his 18th career NXS victory after leading 43 laps. “You can slide these cars around and it’s fun on a lot of different levels. Winning is hard and everything has to go right to win. Today everything didn’t go right and we still snuck one out.”

Creed finished second for the 10th time in his NXS career with Custer in third, Justin Allgaier in fourth and Carson Kvapil fifth in his NHMS debut. Creed nudged Custer out of the lead in turn four of the next-to-last lap to get the lead but left a small window open for Bell on the final circuit.

“I’m running out of ways to lose them but happy for another good run,” Creed said. “Obviously [Bell] got a good run. We’ve been in the hunt the last four weeks. Every week that we can run top-five and be in contention, that’s all you can ask for.”

It was an unusual start for the full field as NASCAR allowed teams to go to wet weather tires for the drop of the green flag with the 1.058-mile asphalt oval damp from earlier rain. It was the first time in NXS history rain tires were used on an oval track. The field was slightly slower with the rain tires in place and some blisters appeared on the used rubber.

Ten laps in NASCAR threw a competition caution mandating that the teams go back to slick tires, the regular setup the drivers are familiar with.

Custer, who started in position one after qualifying was rained out, led all 10 laps while the field was driving with wet weather tires and led a race-high 114 overall.

“That was hard racing at the end,” said Custer, the defending NXS champion who is still seeking his first victory of the season. “I felt like we had that one. We had the best car all day and to have it ripped away with one lap to go is just heartbreaking. That was one of the best cars I’ve had in the Xfinity Series. We just have to keep knocking on the door. I tried to protect the bottom in turns one and two [at the end]. It just sucks to have it ripped away with two laps to go. It’s just brutal.”

Justin Bonsignore, who won the Mohegan Sun 100 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race earlier on Saturday, ran in the top 10 for much of the race until spinning out on a late restart following a bump from a competitor and eventually finished 23rd.

“We had a good pace all day long,” Bonsignore said. “We were right there. It’s tough on these late race restarts and everyone gets crazy. It was a really cool experience and hopefully we can put some stuff together and do some more. I was learning every single lap.”

Among other notable finishers, NCS star Alex Bowman finished ninth, A.J. Allmendinger was 11th and stage one winner Sam Mayer was 20th.

Bell, who also was the stage two winner, completed the 203 laps (214.774 miles) in two hours, 35 minutes and 21 seconds for an average speed of 82.951 mph. Ten drivers exchanged the lead 15 times with 11 caution periods taking up 58 laps.

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Source: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Photo Credit: NHMS/Adam Glanzman

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