Christopher Bell dominates in New Hampshire Xfinity victory


LOUDON, New Hampshire — Now that Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch has bowed out of the Xfinity Series, perhaps Christopher Bell might be interested picking up the slack in victory lane.

Making his first Xfinity start in nearly two years, Bell dominated Saturday’s Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Starting 14th, Bell quickly zoomed to the front and won both stages while leading 151 of 200 laps (including the final 146).

“What I have figured out is I’ve got really, really fast race cars, and I just love being here with Joe Gibbs Racing,” Bell, who won his third consecutive Xfinity start at New Hampshire and is a perfect 3 for 3 at the 1.058-mile oval dating to 2019, told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider. “All these Supras I have the last three times I’ve been here have been amazing.”

Justin Allgaier finished a career-best second at New Hampshire, followed by Daniel Hemric. The top five was rounded out by Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton, both of whom were confirmed for 2022 Cup rides this week.

It was Bell’s 17th career Xfinity victory but first since Nov. 2, 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway during the Norman, Oklahoma, native’s final season on the circuit.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200
Christopher Bell celebrated in an Xfinity Series victory lane for the first time since Nov. 2, 2019 (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images).

Bell focused solely on Xfinity last year as a Cup Series rookie, and he didn’t have any Xfinity races on his 2021 schedule until JGR called a few weeks ago with an unexpected vacancy in the No. 54 Toyota for New Hampshire.

Bell has no other Xfinity races planned — and he can run no more than four and none once the playoffs begin — so it seems unlikely he will make a dent in Busch’s record of 205 career victories. But he won’t be turning down any opportunities.

“Especially over the last two seasons, I think it would have been really, really good for me to capitalize on it with the no practice, no qualifying, hop in the race car for the green flag,” Bell said in a postrace news conference. “I think running the Xfinity car would have been a pretty big advantage for me to do that.

“Moving forward next year it seems like practice is going to come back. The Cup cars are going to be completely different than the Xfinity cars, so I don’t know how much of an advantage it would be next year, but I love racing, and I want to race seven days a week, so if the opportunity comes, I’d like to do it.

“I definitely talked to them earlier in the season, especially running some of the road courses. Really any of the places that don’t have practice and qualifying, I’ve tried to get races, but the schedule is full, so unfortunately I didn’t get any except for this one, and this was just kind of a late notice. I’m glad it opened up, and I was able to do it.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200
Christopher Bell turns a burnout after his 17th Xfinity Series victory (James Gilbert/Getty Images).

With the driving trio of Bell, Busch and Ty Gibbs, the No. 54 has won seven of the past nine races and eight overall this year.

Busch is out of starts after going 5 for 5 this season and declaring his Xfinity career over; Bell said Friday the race originally had been planned for Ty Gibbs.

Bell, 26, joined Busch as the second driver to win three consecutive Xfinity races at New Hampshire.

Saturday was the sixth consecutive Xfinity victory for Joe Gibbs Racing at New Hampshire

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christopher Bell

NOTABLE: Noah Gragson skidded into the wall after being bumped by AJ Allmendinger but maintained control of his No. 9 Chevrolet without bringing out a caution flag. … Brandon Jones finished 38th after running into Riley Herbst on a restart pileup on Lap 26. … In his second career Xfinity Series start, NASCAR Modified veteran Patrick Emerling was having a solid showing for Our Motorsports before suffering a flat right-front tire and hitting the wall on Lap 149.

NEXT: The series will race Aug. 7 at Watkins Glen International (4 p.m. ET, CNBC).

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.