Christopher Bell held on through a restart eight laps from the end to top Tyler Reddick and win the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday night.
Bell was a whiz-kid dirt racing sensation growing up and that experience helped the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to his fifth victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“This place is so much fun, whether it’s dirt or concrete,” Bell said.
Reddick was second for a second straight season, followed by Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe.
Bell’s last challenge came after defending race winner Kyle Busch spun with 15 laps left. Bell took off on the restart and widened his lead over Reddick.
Reddick, who won the second stage, was closing in on the last lap when the 16th and final caution came out, instantly ending the race and sending Bell’s team into hysterics.
Kyle Larson, like Bell a dirt racing supernova who started from pole, won the first stage and took only fuel – no fresh tires – heading to the final segment. But Larson spun on his own 96 laps from the end, had to pit and restarted at the back of the field.
Larson’s race ended for good some 20 laps later after bumping several times with Ryan Preece between turn three all the way to turn one. Larson, the winner last week at Richmond, drove into the garage.
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Preece was angered by earlier contact with Larson and gave him a hand gesture soon after to make that clear as their cars passed each other during a caution.
“I’m guessing he was paying me back for whatever I did earlier,” Larson said. “He rode me straight into the fence.”
Last year’s surprise winner Busch – he swept to the checkered flag after leaders Reddick and Briscoe slid out of contention – lost his chance for a second straight win with his late-race spin.
LOGANO’S UP AND DOWN WEEKEND
It wasn’t the outing two-time NASCAR champ Joey Logano wanted on the Bristol dirt.
Logano, who won the truck race at the track Saturday night, struggled to find his way and was behind the wall with his hood up less than halfway through.
“It was an eventful face for the short amount of laps we got to run,” Logano said. “It seemed like every wreck in front of me, I got up in the middle of it.”
Logano thought he had a competitive car, but broke his steering on a hard hit then “clobbered a fence after that.”
Logano had his hood up behind the wall at lap 104. He registered 37th – last place. It’s the second time that’s happened this season to the reigning champion, the other being Las Vegas last month. He only had two in his NASCAR career before 2023.
NASCAR stays on the short tracks and heads back to Virginia when the Cup Series runs at Martinsville on Sunday. William Byron, already a two-time winner this season, is the defending champion for Martinsville’s spring race.