CBell Wins The SciApps 200

Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell kept it dramatic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon, relying on a last lap pass in overtime to claim the SciAps 200 victory – giving him a perfect four-for-four track record in NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the 1.058-mile track.

Bell’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pulled off a daring three-wide move with two corners to go and ultimately pulled away to a .254-second win over fellow JGR team driver Sheldon Creed. The runner-up showing for the Xfinity Series championship contender Creed was the 10th of his career, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and former series champion Daniel Hemric for most runner-up finishes before a series win.

Bell, a fulltime NASCAR Cup Series competitor for JGR who has already scored two wins in the sport’s premier series this year, now ties Xfinity Series regular A.J. Allmendinger with four Xfinity Series wins in four starts at a single track – and is the fourth different driver to earn a victory in the No. 20 JGR Toyota this season. It is Bell’s 18th win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series scoring his wins at New Hampshire in 2018, ’19, ’21 and now 2024.

“I was just really fortunate, that’s for sure,” said Bell of that race-winning pass on Creed. “I feel so bad for Sheldon. He’s been really, really close to winning these things and today he did everything right to win that race. He re-started in the right lane and gave Cole [Custer] a good push. And coming to the white flag, he got Cole loose and that’s what opened the door for me.

“Very fortunate to keep my undefeated streak alive,” he continued with a smile. “We got really lucky there.”

Despite the recurring near-misses, Creed offered a smile and insisted he was encouraged that a win was close.

“I don’t know, running out of ways to lose them,” Creed said, mustering a smile before adding, “I can think of a million things I could do, that is not a stat I wanted to tie, 10 seconds before a win. …but overall, a great day and proud of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. Been in the hunt the past four weeks so just going to keep working hard at it.”

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Custer led the most laps on the day – 114 of the 203 total – and finished third despite having the lead on that final overtime restart. The result was tough to take, but big picture, still good enough to keep him in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship lead by 15 points now over JGR’s Chandler Smith, who finished 15th.

While the reigning series champion Custer was out front for much of the overcast New England day – he was forced to hold off the field in four restarts in the final 22 laps hoping to claim that first victory of the season. He leaves without a trophy, but won his third stage of the season and maintains that championship advantage.

“I would have done the same thing, you know, you’re racing for the win, it is what it is,” Custer said of the tight racing between him and Creed competing for the win on the final lap. “Man, it just stings. I felt like we had the best car of the day. And that’s not easy to do at these flat short tracks.

“Our guys brought such a fast car. But you get put in those late race restarts, eventually it’s probably not going to go your way. But I’m gonna re-live what I could have done.

“Just gotta keep digging,” he continued. “We’ve got the points lead, just gotta keep knocking on the door.”

JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier rallied to finish fourth with teammate, 21-year-old rookie Carson Kvapil rounding out the top-five. He led 24 laps and used pit strategy to run among the leaders late in the race, which featured 15 lead changes among 10 drivers.

Ryan Sieg, Parker Kligerman, Riley Herbst, Alex Bowman and Cory Heim rounded out the top-10 with season-long title-contenders Smith finishing 15th and Austin Hill, 25th – both being involved in incidents.

Justin Bonsignore finished 23rd in his series debut, but that finishing position was not indicative of his afternoon work. He won his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Saturday morning and then impressively ran among the top-five in the Xfinity Series all afternoon – making a bold outside pass at one point early in the race to get into the top-five after starting 25th in the 38-car field.

He was ultimately collected in a late race incident that diminished his finish, but he still climbed out of his No. 19 JGR Toyota feeling rightly encouraged – his Modified team trackside cheering him on.

“Just really good pace and unfortunate we got turned around here,” Bonsignore said. “We had good pace all day long and just wished it would have stayed green there [at the end]. We were fifth and right there with Sheldon [Creed]. It’s tough. These late race restarts bunch everyone up, but all in all it was a great experience. … Hopefully we can put something together and do some more.”

The NASCAR Xfinity Series moves to Nashville Superspeedway for next Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250 (5 p.m. ET, USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Allmendinger is the defending race winner.

Check out the results fo the SciApps 200 At New Hampshire.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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