Christopher Bell Wins At Martinsville Speedway To Advance To Championship 4by Hunter Thomas October 30, 2022 1 comment
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Christopher Bell pulled off another walk-off victory to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs. On Sunday, he passed Chase Briscoe and held on to win the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway and advance to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.
A late-race caution with just 32 laps to go shook up the flow of the race on Sunday. Bell, who needed to win to advance in the Playoffs looked as if he was going to do so; however, when the caution came out, teams quickly tried to execute a variety of different pit strategies to get their drivers to Phoenix. Briscoe, who hadn’t had speed all day gambled and stayed out to inherit the lead. The Hail Mary move was short lived. With five laps to go, Bell caught and passed Briscoe to solidify his second walk-off victory.
“The reason why this car won today is because it was the best car on the racetrack,” Bell said. “Adam Stevens, Tyler William, this entire 20 group, they just never give up. When our back is against the wall, looks like it’s over, they show up and give me the fastest car out here. I don’t know, man. Words can’t describe this feeling.”
Kyle Larson earned his best Martinsville finish by crossing the line in second.
Ryan Blaney also needed to win on Sunday to advance to the Championship 4, but he came up just short to finish third. Blaney entered the NASCAR Playoffs as the only driver to not have a victory this season.
“I ran (Bell) him down by a little ways and got closer, but I just couldn’t pass him,” Blaney said. “You kind of burn your stuff off trying to pass somebody and he kind of drove away from me. We still had a shot at it there with the last caution and just didn’t get through the traffic as good as he did and once he was able to get the lead. I’m proud of the effort tonight by everybody, but it just wasn’t quite enough.”
Ross Chastain pulled off an incredible video game-style move to finish fourth and advance to the Championship 4. On the final lap, Chastain just drove straight into the wall and used the momentum to bypass enough cars to earn a Championship berth. The crazy move earned him the fastest-ever NASCAR Cup Series lap at Martinsville.
“Oh, played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the game cube with Chad growing up,” Chastain said. “You can get away with it. I never knew if it would actually work.”
Denny Hamlin was going to advance to the Championship 4 before Chastain passed him on the frontstretch. Although Hamlin led a race high of 203 laps, he had to settle for a fifth-place finish.
“We’re trying to battle,” Hamlin said. “Obviously I was trying to get in there. But it’s racing. It’s what racing is here as Martinsville. Actually pretty happy with somewhat how clean it was there towards the end, as crazy was it was with guys on different tires.”
Following the race, Hamlin wasn’t upset with the way Chastain power-dove his way past him.
“Great move,” Hamlin said. “Brilliant. Certainly a great move. When you have no other choice, it certainly is easy to do that. But well executed.”
Joey Logano, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-10.
Advancing to the Championship 4 to compete for the 2022 title will be Joey Logano, Bell, Chastain and Elliott.
Live coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway will broadcast live on NBC and MRN on November 6 at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com