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Officially, the Sunday NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire went the full distance of 305 laps. But it was really the final 77 that mattered, with Mother Nature spicing up what had been a sleepy race at the one-mile oval to that point.

A series of storms led to a downpour most thought would end the race early under NASCAR rules. Instead, officials waited out the rain then allowed teams to switch to wet-weather tires in order to finish before the sun set.

"It was literally the tale of two completely different events," race winner Christopher Bell said.

Eventually, Bell ended up prevailing, passing Reddick for the only lead change of the "wet" portion on Lap 241. Behind him, though the racing was fast and furious, a track that's notoriously difficult to pass on sprung to life as drivers navigated new challenges.

"The track was changing a lot," second-place finisher Chase Briscoe said. "It was a lot like Sprint Car racing, and the groove was literally changing lap in and lap out."

"The black pavement [in the turns] was really slick," fourth-place finisher Kyle Larson added. "So, you kind of had to be way above it or way below it, on the apron. But you couldn't be too greedy cause you could get your right sides kind of hung on the paint and miss it … it was fun trying to manage all that."

The final results seemed to favor the dirt racers used to slipping and sliding: Briscoe, Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who charged all the way from 25th to finish seventh.

The best of them was Bell, of course, emerging up front in both the dry and the wet to collect a race-high 149 laps led.

"I personally love adverse conditions," Bell explained, "Because you're always trying to think outside the box. You know, whenever we went back out, I was feeling around, and it felt like the normal Loudon groove was really, really slippery. So, I tried to just run down or run up, and Adam [Stevens, crew chief] put the tune on this thing, and it was turning really good."

The move to wets did come with some criticism. NASCAR took strategy out of crew chief's hands by dictating when and how teams would pit for fresh tires. No chance to dry pit road meant non-competitive stops with all teams maintaining track position.

The inside groove also became impossible to navigate on restarts. Michael McDowell crashed there while going for the win, taking Ford teammate Ryan Blaney with him. It was one of six caution flags spread out over this short period of wet-weather racing, including one that forced overtime.

But overall, the decision mixed up the racing and salvaged what was a sleepy afternoon. It's an ideal scenario for what both sides want out of a race: fans get to see entertaining competition while the athlete behind the wheel leaves the track feeling like they made a difference in the team's success -- or failure.

"Absolutely," NASCAR's vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said when asked if the sport was happy with the result. "Great success."

Traffic Report

Green: Christopher Bell. The New Hampshire winner has come to life these past five weeks, posting two victories and five straight top-10 finishes to erase a rollercoaster start to 2024. Seeking his third straight Championship 4 appearance, Bell now has more playoff points this season than anyone besides Larson.  

Yellow: Martin Truex Jr. Before rain entered the picture, Truex was in position to win, passing Bell on a dry New Hampshire racetrack as Toyotas were head of the class. Poor pit strategy by crew chief James Small, again, plus a mid-race spin ruined those plans, leaving Truex clawing back to earn a top-10 finish. "We had good stage points," Truex said, "And we needed a good finish, so glad that we got it, but it hurts to have a tough day here, probably being my last one."

Red: Bubba Wallace. No one was hurt more by the race restarting than Wallace, involved in an incident that took his Toyota out. A 34th-place finish marked his fourth straight outside the top 10, allowing Joey Logano to pass him for the final playoff spot despite Logano limping home in 32nd after an earlier wreck of his own.

Speeding Ticket: Richard Childress Racing. It's a mess over at RCR. Kyle Busch ran like junk all day, put out of his misery with a crash just as the rain hit. He now has three 35th-place finishes in the last four races, tumbling out of the playoff picture and putting his 19-season streak of at least one Cup win in serious jeopardy.

Austin Dillon? He also crashed, slumping to 32nd in the standings and nearly 200 points out of a playoff spot. Dillon has now failed to get a top-five finish on an asphalt track since October 2022 at Homestead.

It's clear the best driver in the RCR development program right now is Austin Hill, but he's come under fire for aggressive driving despite two NASCAR Xfinity Series wins. RCR also responded to his growing readiness for Cup by re-signing Dillon to a multi-year deal despite his struggles. What a mess.


Sometimes, you don't need to wreck to be the story of the weekend. Christopher Bell went viral during a pre-race presser this weekend when he was asked a simple question about whether he'll take a bigger leadership role at Joe Gibbs Racing with Martin Truex Jr. retiring at the end of 2024.

"Week in and week out, a different guy may lead the discussion [in team meetings] … I don't think there really is a leadership role [to replace] in that aspect," Bell explained about how the changes would affect JGR. "And whenever Chase comes into the car …"

That's where Bell stopped and turned beet red. Chase Briscoe has been heavily rumored to join JGR by replacing Truex in the No. 19 Toyota, but nothing had been officially announced. Until, of course, Bell pretty much spilled the beans.

The resulting incident led to memes and jokes sprouting up all over the internet, Bell taking a good ribbing from everyone involved in the sport.

Even in the NASCAR driver's meeting, Sawyer started it by asking Bell "if there were any announcements he wanted to make." JGR has now scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to presumably introduce Briscoe to the team.