Monday July 15th, 2024 2:47PM

Bell wins at New Hampshire on rain tires; Elliott finishes 17th

By Dan Gelston AP Sports Writer

LOUDON, N.H. — Christopher Bell mastered the NASCAR Cup Series’ first race ever that ended with cars running on rain tires and pulled away after a 2 hour, 15-minute weather delay to beat darkness and the field and win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell won his third Cup race of the season and swept the weekend at New Hampshire following Saturday’s win in the Xfinity Series.

Dawsonville native Chase Elliott, who started on the pole, led 41 laps but eventually finished 17th after being involved in a crash on Lap 194. Elliott led the NASCAR Cup standings going into the race but is now tied for first with Kyle Larson with 620 points. They both lead Denny Hamlin, who is in third with 580 points.

On Friday, Bell spoiled the reveal that Chase Briscoe is joining him at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2025. Then he ruined Briscoe’s best shot at his first win of the season, holding him off over the final two laps of the overtime finish.

With darkness falling, Bell cruised past Josh Berry and Briscoe and remained the driver to beat at New Hampshire. He has four wins in the Xfinity Series at Loudon and won a Cup race at the track for a second time.

“I love adverse conditions,” Bell said. “It felt like the normal Loudon groove was really, really slippery.”

Bell was used to the rain — he won last month's rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 with 151 laps left in the race.

New Hampshire actually needed four extra laps.

Even with the start of the race bumped up a half-hour, New Hampshire was a mess about from the moment the green flag was dropped. The race was marred by wrecks that wiped some of NASCAR’s biggest stars out of contention — all while the rest of the field tried to remain in contention and beat the looming rain that hovered over the entire weekend.

Tyler Reddick, who won at Talladega this season, held the lead when the race was red-flagged because of rain with 82 laps left in the scheduled 301-lap race.

Fans fled the grandstands and drivers went back to their motorhomes with seemingly no chance of a return as the gloomy weather worsened. New Hampshire and NASCAR waited out a tornado watch, nearby lightning strikes and a severe thunderstorm warning before it could resume the race after a delay of more than 2 hours — and after crew members swept standing water off pit road — and cars all hit the 1.058-mile track on new tires.

NASCAR let teams use wet-weather tires for the only second time in a points race this season. Teams had a maximum of four sets of wet-weather tires to race on the damp oval track. Teams had to take rain tires during pit stops and their position could not be affected.

They also had no choice of tire.

They were also no match for Bell in his No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Bell stood on his car and raised a broom over his head in honor of the weekend sweep before he gripped the lobster in victory lane New Hampshire traditionally awards the winner.

Briscoe was second and Berry third. Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher completed the top five.

Busch's woes
Kyle Busch’s dismal day ended with his Chevy getting towed off the track.

Busch hit the wall running the caution laps to end his race and continue what is shaping up as the worst season of his Cup career. Busch had already tagged the wall just past the halfway point and was running 24th late in the race when he was collected in another wreck. He finished 35th in yet another rough outing this season driving for Richard Childress Racing.

A two-time Cup champion with 231 NASCAR wins, Busch has yet to win a race this season driving for RCR. Busch raised some eyebrows last week when he suggested he would be open to returning to two of his former Cup teams, though he said he remained committed to RCR next season.

Busch, who fell two laps behind Bell just shy of 50 laps into the race, needs a win in the No. 8 Chevrolet to make the playoffs and extend his streak of 20 straight seasons with at least one win in the Cup series. After scoring three early wins last season in his debut year at RCR, the 39-year-old Busch is now on a 39-race winless drought. It’s the worst losing streak of his career,

Spoiled races
Alex Bowman, winless this season for Hendrick Motorsports, ran into trouble when his No. 48 Chevrolet starting smoking. The hood went up on pit road and the car was soon pushed to the garage for repairs. He finished 36th.

Joey Logano locked up the left front tire on the No. 22 Ford off a restart on lap 194 and slammed Elliott. Martin Truex Jr., last season’s New Hampshire winner, spun and hit the wall after contact with Brad Keselowski with 91 laps left.

Bubba Wallace was knocked out of the race by Noah Gragson after the rain delay and briefly parked his car in front of Gragson's on pit road.

Proud to be an American
Daniel Suarez placed an American flag sticker on his Chevrolet days after he became a U.S. citizen. Suarez, a Monterrey, Mexico native, was one of 48 people representing 28 countries sworn in this week at a ceremony in North Carolina.

Up next
NASCAR heads to Nashville Superspeedway next weekend. Trackhouse Racing's Ross Chastain held off Truex to win last season’s race.

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