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Bell Wins at Charlotte ROVAL, Rings His Way to Round of 8

Christopher Bell made some noise at the Charlotte ROVAL. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Christopher Bell made some noise at the Charlotte ROVAL. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

CONCORD, N.C. – When the NASCAR Playoffs format kicked off in 2004, Game 7 moments were some of the possibilities for drivers and teams to celebrate.

Christopher Bell can attest to this in 2022 after a frantic finish to an otherwise docile race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.

As Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 kicked off, Bell had an auspicious start with a 14th place result in Stage 1 and 16th in Stage 2.

By all means, Bell entered Stage 3 needing that David Ortiz like home run swing.

Points racing into the final Round of 8 Playoffs transfer spot would be insufficient.

A caution on Lap 105, coupled with Kyle Larson’s contact with the Turn 7 wall and Daniel Suárez’s power steering issues, set up a favorable push into the Playoffs for Bell.

With the majority of the top 10 staying out for prime track position, Bell drove his No. 20 DeWalt Tools Toyota Camry into the pits for fresh tires and fuel. In turn, Bell and the lot of those running seventh on back pitted to capitalize on the ensuing restart.

Like Dale Earnhardt during the 1995 Daytona 500, Bell catapulted his way back toward the top three.

Before a Lap 109 caution that resulted in a red flag period lasting just under seven minutes, Bell drove to the second spot.

Once the field took to the race’s only Overtime restart on Lap 111, Bell wasted little time to assure himself of a Playoffs spot.

Bell scooted past Harvick prior to Turn 4, pulling away from the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion in comfortable fashion.

Bell made the ROVAL into his personal tool time affair on Sunday. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Bell made the ROVAL into his personal tool time affair on Sunday. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

While the Playoffs contenders duked it out for the final spots, Bell drove to his second Cup win of the 2022 season, besting Harvick by 1.79 seconds.

The dirt track sensation scored his third career Cup win on another road course track, the second instance of such in his premier division career.

Meanwhile, Bell’s versatile rival, Larson, was eliminated from the Round of 8 by virtue of the wall contact and his 35th place finish.

Notably, Larson, Austin Cindric, Daniel Suárez and Alex Bowman were eliminated from the Playoffs.

There is always something to be said about scoring a clutch win, particularly in the Playoffs. The usually mild mannered Bell was as ecstatic as a grad school student scoring straight As.

“Whenever I came off pit road and I was the first car with tires, I was just trying to wait and see where I stacked up,” Bell said.I saw there were 11 cars that stayed out on old tires, I was the first one on new tires. I said, ‘I guess we’re going to roll the dice here and see what happens.'”

A week ahead of a track where rolling the dice is more of the norm than in Concord, North Carolina, Bell made good on the late race gamble for fresh tires and fuel.

Moreover, he was not afraid to make some tenacious moves to assure himself of a Round of 8 spot.

“When I got into turn one, my spotter did an amazing job,” he recalled. “They all started wrecking. He told me to stay tight to the middle, and that kept me out of all the junk in turn one.

“Really proud of everyone on this DeWalt team. They deserve it, man. We’ve been trying so hard to get DeWalt in Victory Lane. We finally got this Camry here.”

Contrary to Bell’s track record on road courses, he was rather candid about his stance on these tracks, particularly with the Round of 12’s challenging circuits.

Now, Bell has plentiful confidence about his chances going into the Round of 8.

I feel really good about it, that’s for sure,” Bell said. “I knew that the whole time going into this second round of the Playoffs this was the troublemaker, with Talladega and then the road course being in here, when we weren’t strong on the road courses.”

Three weeks can make a big difference with one of the the most composed racers in NASCAR. Following a tough time at Texas, Bell saw the light at the end of the Round of 12’s tunnel.

Bell made good on the TPF Live! podcast's outro of "getting the checkered flag." (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Bell made good on the TPF Live! podcast’s outro of “getting the checkered flag.” (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“I was really nervous about this round,” he remarked.I felt good about Texas. When we got out of there with no points, I thought it was going to be a really tough road. It was a really tough road. But there was an end to it.”

Stage 1 Top 10 Finishers


Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers

Chastain-H. Burton-Larson-Allmendinger-Reddick/Suárez-Logano-Briscoe-Blaney-Elliott

Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Top 10 Finishers

Bell-Harvick-Ky. Busch-Allmendinger-Haley/Buescher-Wallace-Reddick-Briscoe-Dillon

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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