Christopher Bell Wins NASCAR Race at Phoenix, Ending Chevrolet's Early Dominance

nascar cup series shriners children's 500
Christopher Bell Wins NASCAR Race at PhoenixChris Graythen - Getty Images

Christopher Bell took home Joe Gibbs Racing's first win of 2024 after battling back from 20th on the final restart. This was the first win by any Toyota driver this season after Chevrolet collected the first three wins.

Bell finished the race with a margin of more than six seconds over Chris Buescher, adding to the theme of dominant wins in motorsports this weekend.

Bell led 50 laps to victory after starting in 13th, the furthest back of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.

With how hard passing was during the Shriners Children 500, it was tough enough for Bell to make it to the front from mid-field, let alone do it twice.

Early in Stage 3, Bell was leading for the first time when a slow pit stop seemingly squashed his chance of victory. He entered the pits first and, after a 12-second stop, exited the pits in 10th.


Over the radio, Crew Chief Adam Stevens told Bell the problem had to do with his right rear. Jamie Little of the FOX Broadcast tracked down the No. 20 car's rear-tire changer Micheal Hicks to seek clarification.

"The wheel didn't make it over the drive pins, and it was stuck," Hicks said, "I had to stay on the lugnut just to ensure and watch that the back of the wheel made it to the backplate. Sometimes, you have to stay there longer to ensure the wheel's tight."

On lap 215, Bell's teammate Denny Hamlin became the second driver to spin from the lead this weekend, bringing out the sixth and final caution. Drivers and crews hoped this would be the last break before they could close out the Phoenix race but went with three distinct tire and fuel strategies.

Nine drivers stayed out and took a chance with fuel mileage and old tires. Martin Turex Jr led this group.

Five drivers, including Ty Gibbs, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Larson, took two tires, hoping to balance track position with fresh tires.

Tyler Reddick, who led 68 laps during the race, was the first car to take four tires and came out in 15th; since Bell was stuck further back in the field, the No. 20 team made the call to give him every advantage possible for passing. While Reddick got stuck mid-field with his decision, Bell marched on.

Bell was able to race his way up to second, and when his teammate Truex ultimately had to pit from the lead on lap 272, Bell inherited the lead and defended for the final 41 laps on his way to his seventh career victory.

You don't get cars like that very often, as you know," Bell said after his victory, "Just super proud to be on this No. 20 car; this Rheem Camry was amazing today. I feel like we have [the] capability of running races like this a lot. Hopefully, this is the first of many this year."

Chris Buescher crossed the line second, his best finish of the early season, and Gibbs followed in third, his highest finish of his NASCAR Cup Series Career.

Next Week, the NASCAR Cup Series will truly go short-track racing. The series will return to racing on concrete in the Spring at Bristol Motor Speedway after the three-year experiment of running a dirt track inside "The Last Great Colosseum."

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