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Bell Takes Bristol Dirt Race

Christopher Bell held on through a restart eight laps from the end hold off another who grew up racing on dirt in Tyler Reddick.


Bell was a whiz-kid dirt racing sensation growing up — he won three Chili Bowl Nationals driving midget cars on dirt — and that experience helped the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to his fifth victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.


The first two years of Bristol dirt racing, NASCAR champs Joey Logano and Kyle Busch both won despite have less expansive dirt experience than many of their colleagues.


Reddick was second for a second straight season, followed by Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe.


Bell’s last challenge came after defending race winner Kyle Busch spun with 15 laps left. Bell took off on the restart and widened his lead over Reddick.


Reddick, who won the second stage, was closing in on the last lap when the 16th and final caution came out, instantly ending the race and sending Bell’s team into hysterics.


Justin Haley was sixth, Bell’s JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. seventh, Todd Gilliland eighth, Kevin Harvick with Ty Gibbs in 10th, giving Gibbs three cars in the top 10.


Points leader Ross Chastain, who took the top spot after Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman’s car was hit with a 60-point penalty for violations at Richmond, ended a lap down in 28th.


Kyle Larson, like Bell a dirt racing supernova who started from pole, won the first stage and took only fuel — no fresh tires — heading to the final segment. But Larson spun on his own 96 laps from the end, had to pit and restarted at the back of the field.


Larson’s race ended for good some 20 laps later after bumping several times with Ryan Preece between turn three all the way to turn one. Larson, the winner last week at Richmond, drove into the garage.


Preece was angered by earlier contact with Larson and gave him a hand gesture soon after to make that clear as their cars passed each other.


Joey Logano, who won the truck race at the track Saturday night, struggled to find his way and was behind the wall with his hood up less than halfway through.


Logano had his hood up behind the wall at lap 104. He registered 37th — last place. It’s the second time that’s happened this season to the reigning champion, the other being Las Vegas last month. He only had two in his NASCAR career before 2023.


NASCAR stays on the short tracks and heads back to Virginia when the Cup Series runs at Martinsville on Sunday. William Byron, already a two-time winner this season, is the defending champion for Martinsville’s spring race.

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