Los Angeles Times

Bell wins, earns spot in Cup playoffs


Christophe­r Bell’s crew chief tried to give him a little bit of coaching — some encouragem­ent with about 40 laps left in Sunday’s race and a victory and playoff spot at stake — and was promptly told, well, basically to shush.

“He told me that he had it under control,” crew chief Adam Stevens said with a laugh, “and he clearly did.”

Bell explained later there were so many laps left in the race that he didn’t need a reminder of how far the No. 20 Toyota had to go to reach the finish line.

Plus, Bell already knew the way to reach victory lane at his favorite track.

Bell crashed the NASCAR playoffs — and tightened the pressure on the remaining winless drivers — with a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to become the 14th Cup Series winner this season.

“That one was much needed right there,” the 27year-old Bell said.

Bell mastered the track where he won Xfinity Series races in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and was second in the Cup race last year, holding off Chase Elliott — last week’s winner at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bell is the 14th driver to earn a spot in the 16-driver playoff field. With six races left in the season, it leaves open the possibilit­y that more than 16 drivers could win a race and the final playoff spot or spots would be decided on points.

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