NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Ambetter 301: Christopher Bell joins playoff field with win

July 17

The NASCAR Cup Series' July schedule continued Sunday with the Ambetter 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Christopher Bell won after eight dramatic lead changes.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver scored his first win of 2022 and second of his career en route to becoming the 14th different Cup Series winner this season and joining the Cup playoff field.

Here are the top moments from Loudon, New Hampshire.

Green!

Martin Truex Jr., who earned his first pole position in four years for Sunday's race, got off to a good start and put a couple of car lengths between him and Chase Elliott early, followed by Bubba Wallace taking second place from Elliott at the end of Lap 1.

Early wreck!

Alex Bowman, Ty Dillon, Josh Bilicki and  BJ McLeod were involved in a hard crash on the backstretch, bringing out the first caution of the day on Lap 6. 

All four drivers were done for the day after the collision. It was Bowman's third DNF in his past four races.

Back on track

The green flag was back on Lap 13, and the running order remained stable through the first 32 laps. Truex Jr., Wallace and Elliott held down the top three spots, while Kyle Larson battled Kurt Busch for fourth.

Elsewhere, Denny Hamlin passed Brad Keselowski in an effort to reach the top 10, while Cindric and Cole Custer got into it on the front stretch. 

Meanwhile, Truex Jr. extended his lead to four seconds with less than 10 laps to go in the opening stage.

MTJ takes Stage 1

Truex Jr. led every lap to win the first stage by about five seconds, followed by Wallace, Larson, Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Bell, Busch, Aric Almirola, William Byron and Hamlin rounding out the top 10 spots.

Follow the leader

Truex Jr. won the race off pit road to start the second stage, but Harvick was hot on his tail after picking up three spots thanks to a fantastic stop from his crew.

Caution returns

Misfortune struck Kyle Busch, who went for a big spin in Turn 2 to bring out the race's third caution.

Bringing the heat

The green flag was back out at Lap 84, where Larson had moved up to second behind Truex Jr., while Wallace attempted to pass Harvick for third. 

Things didn't stay that way for long, as a three-car crash involving Harrison Burton, Michael McDowell and Corey LaJoie brought out the fourth caution. Defending champion Almirola was running sixth when that caution came out.

The green flag returned at Lap 101 with Joey Logano as the new leader.

Quick work

Elliott was the star as the second stage came to a close, gaining 12 spots since the restart to get into the top 10 with 65 laps remaining in Stage 2.

Not so fast!

Elsewhere, Truex Jr. passed Logano and opened up a three-second lead over him to regain control.

Misfortune strikes

The caution came out for Ryan Blaney after he spun in Turn 4, while Hamlin's troubles on pit road knocked him to 22nd place. After a restart on Lap 152, the caution was back out again for a spin by Chase Briscoe.

Double trouble

Kyle Busch went around again coming off of Turn 4 in front of traffic without hitting anything or anyone else.

Sorry, Not Sorry

Meanwhile, Dillon and Keselowski went at it under caution, and both drivers sustained a lot of damage.

Dominating the field

Truex Jr. came out on top again, sweeping two stages in a race for the 15th time in his career.

Trouble on pit road

Harvick was coming out of his stall at the same time Dillon was going into his, which ended with Harvick making major contact with Dillon and spinning him out. The green flag was back out with 93 laps to go.

Pulling out all the stops

Elliott and Kurt Busch traded a little paint as the third and final stage got underway.

Home stretch

Bell ran down Elliott for the late lead with 42 laps to go and extended his lead to two full seconds with 20 laps remaining, then 2.6 seconds with 10 laps left.

Winner!

In the end, Bell built his lead up to nearly six seconds and held onto the lead to take home the win, followed by Elliott, Wallace, Truex Jr. and Harvick rounding out the top five spots.


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