Christopher Bell Prevails In Wet Conditions To Win At New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Christopher Bell Prevails In Wet Conditions To Win At New Hampshire Motor Speedway

by June 23, 2024 0 comments

LOUDON, N.H. – Christopher Bell prevailed on wet tires to win the USA Today 301 in NASCAR Overtime on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell kicked off the NASCAR Cup Series race by winning Stage 1. Throughout the afternoon, he led a race high of 149 laps; however, in the final stage of the race, Bell had to work hard in unprecedented conditions. 

“It was literally the tale of two completely different events,” Bell said. “Obviously the rain completely shook up what was going on track, and in the dry we started off really well. I was able to get the lead in the first stage, and then Martin (Truex Jr.) really came on there in stage two.”

23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick was out in front of the field when rain began to pour at the track. With only 84 laps remaining, the industry wasn’t sure if NASCAR would restart the race; however, this weekend, wet tires were available but had never been run in competition on a track as large at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After a red flag that lasted more than 2 hours 14 minutes, NASCAR refired the engines, and drivers went head-to-head on wet tires.

“Just how historic it was,” Bell said. “For NASCAR to run in the rain like that — or not in the rain, but run in the damp conditions on an oval, I mean, it ended up being hopefully a good show.”

Once racing in damp conditions, it appeared drivers who had dirt racing experience prevailed more quickly. Drivers had to search the track for puddles to cool down the tires under caution and then search for grip under green flag conditions. Fans were treated to drivers racing five wide at times. Bell made up the most ground by running the far low lane on the apron. In NASCAR Overtime, Bell got a great jump on the final restart and cruised to his third victory of the season.

“Definitely I think that we had some room to improve on the dry stuff,” Bell said. “Like, I’m not sure that I — well, I definitely didn’t have the dominant car. Then whenever the wet came, it was just like — I mean, we might as well have been at somewhere completely different.

“It was just so fun to get to experience that, run a whatever it was, 80 laps in wet tires and wet, damp conditions. Yeah, just a lot of fun. That was so much fun.”

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe held on to finish runner-up on Sunday. Briscoe, who is expected to join Joe Gibbs Racing next year, started the race in 23rd and raced his way to the front, especially in wet conditions, where he advanced his running position the most.

“What a whirlwind,” Briscoe said. “Two hours ago, we couldn’t even run 25th. The rain saved us. Just an awesome recovery for our Zep Ford. I always joke that this is one of my worst race tracks so to run second is kind of surprising to be honest with you. The rain definitely helped us. If it wasn’t for the rain we were going to literally run 24th probably. We had a couple of good restarts and the guys did a good job of understanding the rain balance.”

Briscoe’s teammate, Josh Berry also made up significant ground in wet conditions as well. Berry, who is searching for a ride for next season was running mid-pack prior to the rain, but in wet conditions, he charged to the front of the field and finished third.

“We were 20th when it was raining and then we threw some rain tires on it and did what I knew we could do and moved all the way up there,” Berry said. “That was a lot of fun honestly. I am going to think back to a million things I could have done differently there but the bottom was just so hard to get going through one and two. I feel like if I could have just cleared the 14 (Briscoe), I was kind of inching in on Bell before the final caution.”

Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five. Reddick finished sixth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., John Hunter Nemechek, Truex and Ross Chastain.

The race saw six lead changes among five drivers. Toyota Racing drivers led all but 60 laps as Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing dominated the afternoon.

There were 14 cautions for 85 laps.

Larson continues to lead the series standings; however, Chase Elliott has currently tied him with points. When it comes to the Playoff standings, Bell now moves into the No. 2 position behind Larson with Sunday’s victory.

The NASCAR Cup Series will visit Nashville Superspeedway for the Ally 400 on Sunday, June 30. Live coverage will broadcast on NBC at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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