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NASCAR Cup Series

Bell Punches Ticket Into Second Round of Playoffs

(Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Christopher Bell entered the 2022 Playoffs, not many people necessarily viewed him as a prime contender. But just two races in, Bell has a pair of top-five finishes and has taken the points lead. After finishing third in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook at Kansas Speedway, Bell is the first driver to punch his ticket into the Round of 12.

I’m very happy that we’re finally getting the results that this team deserves,” Bell told USA Network. “Our speed has been there all year, and I feel like we’ve given up a couple good finishes. Last couple of weeks we’ve been building on it, and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.” 

Bell, who won earlier in the season at New Hampshire, started his weekend strong by qualifying in fourth place. He ran well early in the race, and on Lap 72, he took the lead after a Tyler Reddick crash and won Stage 1.

Throughout the race, Bell and his No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry team minimized mistakes and kept track position. Alex Bowman dominated and won Stage 2 while Bell finished right behind him in second.

After nine cautions in the first 167 laps, the final stage went caution free. Bowman struggled with long run speed and Bubba Wallace drove through the field to lead 58 of the last 68 laps to win the race. Denny Hamlin snuck past Christopher Bell with 15 laps to go to finish second while Bell held on for a podium finish.

Just got off a little bit on our balance that last run, but overall a great points day and very proud of everyone on this DEWALT No. 20 team,” Bell said. “Great day for Toyota and happy for Bubba [Wallace] to get a win. He was really deserving, really fast all day. Great points day. We’ll move on and try and win one.” 

Though Bell already has his spot in the next round secured, he still has plenty to race for with more playoff points available. Additionally, William Byron (+48), Hamlin (+47), Joey Logano (+40), Ryan Blaney (+36), Bowman (+30), Chase Elliott (+28), Kyle Larson (+27) and Ross Chastain (+26) all had positive days and are closer to clinching spots in the Round of 12.

Bell hasn’t won in the Cup Series at Bristol, but has a top 10 — which came with defunct Leavine Family Racing — in three starts on the asphalt. He does have an Xfinity Series win in Thunder Valley.

Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network. Kyle Larson won last year’s race.

Nathan Solomon is a junior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. He serves as the managing editor for his campus newspaper, The BonaVenture, and as the programming director for his campus radio station, WSBU 88.3FM. The station is rated the No. 4 college radio station in the country by Princeton Review. Solomon started his journalism career in 2018 when he began covering hometown Cornell basketball for IvyHoopsOnline. In 2019, Solomon joined Empire Sports Media to contribute baseball content and started covering NASCAR for the outlet in 2020. In 2021, he covered his first two NASCAR races with Empire Sports Media. Solomon joined TPF in September of 2021 and became managing editor in spring of 2022. He is also an NMPA journalist.

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