NASCAR Cup Series in New Hampshire Results: Christopher Bell wins Ampeter 301 to earn a playoff point

As one of the most consistent drivers in the Cup series this season, Christopher Bell entered Sunday’s race in New Hampshire with last place on the qualifying grid via points and a fight to keep it. And thanks to the fight he showed, Bell didn’t need to worry about points anymore.

Taking the lead from Chase Elliott with 42 laps left, Bale pulled away from the last green flag race to win the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, taking his first win of 2022 and second of his career. Bale’s only other win was the second race of the 2021 season at Daytona International Speedway.

Bale is now the 14th different driver to win a race in the first 20 races of the season, now leaving only two NASCAR qualifying spots available on points.

Ambetter 301 results

  1. #20 – Christopher Bell
  2. #9 – Chase Elliott
  3. #23 – Bubba Wallace
  4. #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  5. #4 – Kevin Harvick
  6. #11 – Denny Hamlin
  7. #6 – Brad Kiselowski
  8. #1 – Ross Chastain
  9. #99 – Daniel Suarez
  10. #45 – Kurt Busch

“This race was really needed out there. I’ll tell you, it was a hell of a race from my point of view,” Bell told NBC Sports. “…Winning cup races is tough…it seemed like we were so close, and then we fell a little bit last week. I was talking to my best friend and I told him early in the year, I felt like we were about to win. And then for the last couple of weeks, It felt like we were so far away. But we’re here today.”

Here’s more on the New Hampshire fallout and Christopher Bell’s victory with a massive playoff fallout.

For whom the bell tolls

Entering New Hampshire, Christopher Bell’s outpacing Kevin Harvick was last in the playoffs on points at 19 points, making it entirely possible for Harvick to make that gap, and Bell would likely lose ground quickly. But the look of the complexion in the last 100 laps of Sunday’s race completely changed things.

During the first two stages, Martin Truex Jr. is the stadium class and that Harvick probably had the only car that could challenge him to victory. But the final warning of the day for a Tour by Todd Gilliland – who put up a 93-lap green flag to the finish – completely changed things.

Strategies were split across cars on the first lap, and Truex and Harvick were among the drivers taking only two tires on the pit road. This proved to be the wrong connection, as neither Truex nor Harvick were able to make their way through traffic on two tires early in the race. Meanwhile, cars that captured four tires — Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace and others — were able to effectively make their way across the field forward.

Elliott looked as though he might have been in the best position to take the win once he passed Kurt Bosch, Joey Lugano and Cole Caster – none of whom were chosen to pits – but Bell’s car came on the ground for the last 50 laps, running Elliott and then driving away for good once he took over. Bill the lead with 42 points from the end.

As a result of Bale’s win, the drivers were left with only two spots to make qualifying on points. Ryan Blaney has a 105 point advantage on the cutoff line, and the all-day maximum stage points gave Truex a 68 point advantage on the cutoff line. Kevin Harvick is now trailing Truex for last place in qualifying with a 68-point lead, the only driver within 100 points of the cut-off line after Eric Almerola suffered a transmission failure and lost several laps during Sunday’s race.

The way things rocked put several drivers in a must-win zone for qualifying. It also created a scenario in which two drivers in the top five on points – Blaney and Truex – are at risk of missing out on qualifying. And what’s more, there are still six full races left to solve all of this.

Bad Brad is going crazy

Brad Keselowski’s season-long attempts to bring RFK Racing back into prominence may have reached a major turning point on Sunday. Having spent most of the season toiling in obscurity, Kiselovsky put his season best in seventh place, though not without major drama.

After a spin by Kyle Busch led to a mid-race warning, Austin Dillon expressed his displeasure with the way Kielowski was racing by driving to Kiselowski’s door and taking a pass from behind. Keselowski proceeded to roll on Dillon, hanging left in Dillon’s door and hitting the fenders with him all the way on the spot.

Keselowski sustained significant damage to the left side, but kept moving and even responded to contact Ross Chastain by running Chastain’s strength down the track along the front. After Keselowski’s best performance of the season, the question of why he faced off with Dillon remained.

“We’ve been to her a few times over the past two years,” Dillon told NBC Sports. “One time, she hit hard.” “I just don’t like the way some people are racing with me. It’s probably not the right way to do it under caution.”

Dillon said he had no plans to discuss the case with Kiselovsky, saying “I’m not talking to him.” Meanwhile, Kiselovsky indicated that he would deal with the matter privately.

“The enthusiasm in the cars and in the gangs gets the best of us,” Kisilovsky told NBC Sports. “I’ll talk to him privately. I don’t need to be stupid in the media.”

Hoba Buba

Bubba Wallace won the NASCAR Cup Series to his credit, and he also finished second twice in the Daytona 500. But Sunday may have marked, from start to finish, the most complete race of his Cup career.

After earning his best career qualifying effort in fourth, Wallace drove into second place early and rarely left the top ten the rest of the day. Wallace was executed on the track and his team executed on a pit road, as evidenced by their last stand: Crew chief Bootie Barker’s call to put in four tires helped Wallace on the last long run, as modern left-side tires helped him drive all the way up the third by the checkered flag.

It was a healing result for Wallace, who had a difficult season in 2022 and his team was struggling He recently made changes to the pit crew after major publicity struggles In the pits that caused Wallace to lose his patience several weeks ago in Nashville.

“I’m proud of the team, proud of myself, and proud of everyone in the store,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “…(the car) didn’t handle that great, but it had the speed, so we knew that. Just mental preparation, we had to prepare yourself for a long day, and we did. I had no idea where we were running there in The end. I knew it was in the top five. Just managing the tires there at the end, and we were able to take advantage.

“Just proud. Just proud everyone, happy. It’s been hell for me last month, and it’s so good to go out with the top five.”

Wallace’s third-place finish marked his first-ever five-game winning streak in the Cup Series on a track less than two miles long. Wallace’s previous top 5 players came in at either Daytona and Talladega, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or Pocono Raceway.

Rundown race results

  • Kurt Busch had the best performance out of the three drivers who chose to stay away from the ultimate caution. With neither Busch, Logano nor Custer being able to make it to the finish, Busch had a clean final green mark and was able to drive all the way up to 10th at the finish. Custer’s last stop was a very flop, leaving prematurely while his crew was trying to remove the right rear wheel, resulting in a long pit stop and relegating him to 27th. Lugano tried to hold his fuel for as long as possible, but had to dig five laps to go and earn 24th .
  • Austin Cendrick used strategy to work his way inside the top ten early in the race, but his day went awry when a right-hand front wheel came out as he left his stall under caution. Cindric would eventually recover to finish 13th, ending his streak in the top ten in four races.
  • Harrison Burton led the laps for the third week in a row, staying outside under one caution to be the leader on restart. Burton was running inside the top 10 when his crew received an equipment interference penalty at their final stop. Burton never regained his position on the track and finished 26th.
  • Alex Bowman only cut four laps before being an innocent spectator when Ty Dillon veered the track in front of him, prematurely ending Bowman’s day in a four-car crash. Bowman now has three DNFs in the last four races, continuing a miserable summer streak in which he hasn’t seen him score in the top ten since Charlotte in May.

Next race

After a trip to New England, the NASCAR Cup Series stays in the Northeast with a trip to the mountains and the Pocono Raceway in Pocono, Pennsylvania. Pocono will be the site of M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.