Bell heading toward Cup Series playoffs stronger than ever

Finally, the tide seems to have turned for Christopher Bell.

Bell has multiple victories in the regular season for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career. Not only is he tied for most in the series with Kyle Larson, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and William Byron, but he also has the second-most playoff points behind Larson.

In other words, Bell looks much better positioned for a run in the postseason than in previous years. Although he made the Championship 4 the last two seasons, Bell and the No. 20 DeWalt team had to do it the hard way in must-win situations.

“Oh my gosh, man, we’ve been trying to work toward this for the last three years,” Bell said Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. “It feels very, very rewarding to have playoff points in the bank right now, and we’ve [still got] a great opportunity to get more. This is what everybody wants in the regular season — to get out of here with a bunch of points.


“It feels much different from what we’ve had in the past.”

The early part of the season made it look like Larson would separate himself from the pack. Larson not only racked up victories (three) but also stage wins (eight) to add to his playoff point total, and his pace was far ahead of the competition.

Over the last month, though, Bell came on strong. He’s led the third-most laps in the series (451) and won two of the last five races. He’s also picked up five more stage wins in that stretch and finished no worse than ninth.

The numbers now fall like this: Larson leads the series with 23 playoff points to Bell’s 22. Larson leads the series with eight stage wins to Bell’s seven.

Bell has also gone from 15th in the championship standings before the Coca-Cola 600, which he won, to sixth after his victory last weekend in New Hampshire — another important factor because NASCAR awards drivers who finish the regular season inside the top 10 in the championship standings with additional playoff points.

There are eight races left in the regular season, including Sunday at Nashville (3:30 p.m. ET, USA). Bell has an average finish of eighth in three starts at Nashville in the Cup Series.

For reference, Bell will start the postseason with more playoff points than he’s had in his previous three appearances, having started the 2023 postseason with 14 playoff points, 11 going into 2022 and just five to start the 2021 postseason.

Story originally appeared on Racer