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Jun 28, 2024 2:15 pm

Christopher Bell seeks fourth Cup Series win of 2024 at Ally 400

christopher bell

Christopher Bell started last week in Loudon by letting the cat out of the bag then ended it as he always seems to do at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: First to the checkers.

On a historic day when NASCAR ran wet-weather tires on an oval to give the fans their money’s worth — actually a few laps more than the planned 301 circuits — Bell showed that he had figured out how to maneuver his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around the New England track better than any other driver.

That came after inadvertently revealing that Chase Briscoe would be joining him as a JGR teammate next season, letting the confidential info slip out last Friday in an interview in the infield media center.

Winning Sunday helped erase the oopsie.

Bell’s second career Cup Series win at Loudon came on the heels of winning his fourth straight Loudon Xfinity Series race Saturday.

In all, the Norman, Okla., native has won seven of his 11 starts at NHMS, including a Truck Series triumph in 2017.

Now it’s on to Nashville Superspeedway, which will be hosting its fourth consecutive Cup race this Sunday, the Ally 400 at the 1.333-mile tri-oval in Lebanon, Tenn.

Even with top-10 finishes in each of the three events held there since the 2021 campaign, the JGR hot shoe has not had the good fortune there he has sought.

“It’s good to head into Nashville having three top-10 finishes but it’s been a place where I haven’t been super comfortable,” said Bell, who is tied with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and William Byron with three victories thus far in the Cup Series. “Since we’ve gone back with the Next Gen car, we just haven’t been great, and I’ve been the back half of the top-10 and lacking a little speed compared to the winners.

“I know we are trying something new to try and improve on that, and I’m going there with a different mindset and a different mentality than I have the last couple of years.”

Race No. 19 in the Cup Series just outside of Nashville will be 300 laps, and Hendrick Motorsports has played it pretty well for the crowds in the Music City by winning two of the three races.

In the inaugural event in 2021, Larson dominated by leading 264 laps. In the process, the No. 5 Chevrolet driver beat Ross Chastain by 4.335 seconds for Larson’s third straight win.

Also of note in that one, Chase Elliott scored a 13th-place finish but was disqualified after it was discovered in post-race inspection that he had five loose lug nuts. He was scored in last place and stripped of his Stage 1 win.

Elliott rebounded by taking the checkers in 2022, but Chastain broke the Hendrick stranglehold on the trophy by putting his No. 1 Chevy Camaro on the pole and beating Martin Truex Jr. last year.

On Thursday night at the old Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway short track, Chastain warmed up for the race weekend by finishing fourth, one spot ahead of hometown favorite Josh Berry, in the inaugural Battle of Broadway 150.

–Field Level Media

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