NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR takeaways: Christopher Bell conquers Bristol dirt for first 2023 win
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR takeaways: Christopher Bell conquers Bristol dirt for first 2023 win

Published Apr. 10, 2023 12:09 a.m. ET

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Christopher Bell was ready for a move by Tyler Reddick on the final lap of the Bristol dirt race that never came.

With the car of Ross Chastain stopped on the inside of Turn 3, the yellow waved on the final lap, ending any chance of Reddick of trying to make one last-gasped effort for the victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"I was fully committed to block the move," Bell said. "And I'm sure he would have given me a friendly bumper. ... It was probably going to be an exciting finish that's for sure."

Reddick, who lost the race last year when Chase Briscoe tried to slide past him and instead slid into him, had hoped to make a move.


[Food City Dirt Race highlights: Christopher Bell wins big at Bristol]

"I was certainly going to give it a try that's for sure," Reddick said. "But when you're going up against a guy like Christopher that has the experience he does, he's going to be ready for anything."

Takeaways from a race where Bell and Reddick were followed by Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Briscoe across the finish line.

Dirt Experience Matters

With this the third attempt of Cup racing on Bristol dirt, it was no surprise that the first six drivers, including sixth-place Justin Haley, have significant dirt racing experience, whether it's modified, late models or sprint cars.

There was a reason for that, Bell said. The track raced more like a regular dirt track and not one where they bring in tons and tons of dirt and put it on what is normally a concrete racing 0.533-mile surface.

"The track was very tough and certainly favored the guys that had experience on that style of track," Bell said. "

The first two dirt races were won by drivers with not much dirt experience — Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, although Busch won when Reddick and Briscoe tangled last year.

"It was finally a real dirt-track style race," Briscoe said. "The track prep guys did a phenomenal job. ... I thought there was no way the top was going to come in — and it definitely came in. I had a blast."

Food City Dirt Race highlights

Christopher Bell held on to win the NASCAR Food City Dirt Race.

Larson-Preece tangle

Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece tangled during the second stage at Bristol, and Preece indicated "game over" on his radio.

Then in the final stage, Preece and Larson slammed doors as Larson tried to pass him in the upper groove.

"He's mad at me," Larson said. "I guess I'm mad at him. ... Who's to say he intentionally wrecked me? Only he knows."

Preece, who has little dirt experience, said it wasn't intentional when racing a driver with significant dirt experience.

"I tried to move up there and we were too loose," Preece said. "A lot of people are going to stand their ground, but by no means was that intentional. I was trying to get all I could."

So what about the "game over" comment?

"I meant I'm just not going to keep lifting and give that respect of I'm going to give you this room," Preece said. "It comes down to that."

Larson, who said he wasn't at fault for their initial contact, was smiling even though he said "I figured we could just be grownups and get the f--- over it but I guess not."

"I'm not going to let it carry it forward," Larson said. "I'm mostly mad at myself. I shouldn't have been back there. I spun out [just before that]."

'I'm guessing he was paying me back'

Kyle Larson discussed tangling with Ryan Preece as he finished his day early at Bristol.

Best Dirt Race

Although there were 14 cautions, this was probably the best dirt race of the three so far at Bristol.

Track owner Marcus Smith said Thursday that it was still to be determined if there would be a fourth.

For the first time, there were two consecutive days of racing with no rain (rain washed out practice Friday), and these were the best conditions in the three years.

"I've been in a lot of asphalt races this year that wasn't near as good as that," Dillon said.

'Some of the longest laps of my entire life'

Christopher Bell reflects on the wild finish at Bristol. 

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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