Christopher Bell Clinches Victory in Rain-Shortened Coca-Cola 600

CONCORD, N.C. – A lightning delay that turned into a heavy rainstorm made a winner of Christopher Bell in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Not that Bell didn’t deserve the victory in the rain-shortened race, which NASCAR was forced to call after 249 of 400 laps were complete. The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota started third, led a race-high 90 laps and won the second stage of the 14th NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.

NASCAR attempted to dry the track when the rain subsided but heavy humidity derailed their efforts. The victory signaled a shift in momentum for Bell, who has finished outside the top 10 in five of his previous six races.

“It feels so good,” Bell said. “And, really, the last two Coca-Cola 600s I felt like we had the potential to go to Victory Lane and both times we haven’t been able to do it. We’ve really been in a slump the last couple weeks so to come out here and have a banner day at such a high-profile, prestigious event is really big for us. Obviously, it’s a great thing to get stage points and the Playoff points that come with that. It’s a good day, for sure.

“You could feel the intensity of the race pick up (as Stage 3 began) and people were very aggressive for how early we were in a 600-mile event. I think it’s because everyone knew we were racing to the rain. I’m just very, very proud of this No. 20 group. I’ve been working really hard to get us back to where we need to be and today was a great step in the right direction.

“Man, it feels so good – to win or lose – just to have a great race to go off of,” Bell said. “A race where we led laps. We were able to pass cars. We lost the lead at times and were able to drive back to the lead.

“We had great pit stops. It was a team effort, and it was amazing to have a good race. Hopefully, this is something we can build on and get back to being more consistent.”

The turning point of the Coca-Cola 600 came when Bell held off Darlington winner Brad Keselowski during a 10-lap run after a caution for Corey LaJoie’s spin in Turn 2 on Lap 229.

Keselowski scored his third runner-up finish of the season in the No. 6 RFK Ford and was left wondering if he could have overtaken Bell if the race had not been shortened.

“We had a car that could win the race,” he said. We ran down (Bell) twice, but we didn’t get to see it play out. It slipped through our fingers there. All in all, I’m really happy with our performance.”

Stage 1 winner William Byron finished third behind Bell and Keselowski as  Tyler Reddick and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. Pole winner Ty Gibbs, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and Josh Berry completed the top 10.

Kyle Larson, who finished 18th in his Indy 500 debut, arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway to take over driving duties in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. But, because of the weather delay and resultant race stoppage, he was denied the opportunity. Justin Allgaier, who was subbing for Larson in his absence, finished 13th.

Next Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway for the Enjoy Illinois 300 race at 3:30 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on FS1 with radio coverage provided by MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.  

NOTES: NASCAR officials completed post-race inspection in the Cup Series garage with no issues and confirmed Bell’s victory.

Coca-Cola-600-Results12414_UNOFFRES

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Angie Campbell
Angie Campbell
A native of Charlotte, NC, Angela (Angie) was first introduced to racing by her father. An avid fan of NASCAR, she found a way to combine her love of racing with her passion for writing. Angie is also an award-winning member of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

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