Advertisement

Christopher Bell stays undefeated in NASCAR Xfinity Series at New Hampshire with 4th straight win

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Christopher Bell used a three-wide, last-lap pass on Saturday to drive away and win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race for the fourth straight time at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The 29-year-old Bell needed three extra laps on the 1.058-mile track but remained undefeated at New Hampshire in the Xfinity Series and scored another win for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 Toyota. The 20 team behind crew chief Tyler Allen has won four times this season with four drivers: John Hunter Nemechek, Aric Almirola, Ryan Truex and Bell.

“Once I got to the inside at three-wide down the front straightaway, I felt like I was in the position I wanted to be in to win the race,” Bell said.

Bell led 43 of 203 laps and added this checkered flag to his collection of Xfinity wins at New Hampshire in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Sheldon Creed was second and Cole Custer third, both drivers caught up in Bell's thrilling pass and both drivers fell just shy of keeping Bell out of victory lane.

“I feel so bad for Sheldon,” Bell said. “He’s been really really close to winning these things.”

Creed has two runner-up finishes this season and 10 overall in the Xfinity Series without a win in 86 career races. He's tied with Dale Jarrett and Daniel Hemric for most second-place finishes before a victory.

“I’m running out of ways to lose these things,” Creed said.

Bell and Custer kept the headlines confined to the track.

Bell blurted out that Chase Briscoe was set to leave Stewart-Haas Racing, which shuts down at the end of the season, and make the move to Joe Gibs Racing in 2025. Briscoe is slated to drive the No. 19 Toyota for JGR.

“I stayed off social media, for sure,” Bell said.

Custer lost his Cup ride at SHR after the 2022 season and spent the last two years driving for its Xfinity program. He won the series championship last season and leads the points standings this season by 15 points over Chandler Smith.

“I felt like we had that one,” Custer said. “We had the best car all day and to have it ripped away with one lap to go is just heartbreaking.”

Custer, who led 114 laps at New Hampshire, could get a return to the Cup next season.

SHR co-owner Gene Haas announced this week he will remain in the Cup Series and field one car in 2025. Haas will keep one of the four charters that belong to Stewart-Haas Racing and will operate next season as the Haas Factory Team.

“I think what Gene Haas has done in this sport, it would be a dream come true to get to run that Cup car,” Custer said.

Stewart-Haas Racing is primarily run by Joe Custer, the chief operating officer and longtime Haas confidant. Custer will remain president of Haas Factory Team — and his son could get the Cup seat.

“Whenever I went back to the Xfinity Series, my goal was always to go back to Cup,” Cole Custer said. “I’ve been trying to work on what I can do to get myself better over the past year and a half. At the end of the day, you try and do as best you can and you hope it all sorts itself out. But I really don’t have much to say or anything right now that’s solidified or anything.”

Justin Bonsignore finished 23rd in his Xfinity Series debut hours after he won a race at the track in NASCAR's Modified Tour. He's a three-time NWMT champion. Driving the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, Bonsignore was collected in a late wreck.

The Xfinity race was run on wet-weather tires, a first for the series on the oval.

Matt DiBenedetto was disqualified during post-race inspection for three loose lug nuts on the right rear.

___

AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

Dan Gelston, The Associated Press