Christopher Bell battles back for victory at Phoenix Raceway

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Christopher Bell took advantage of Martin Truex Jr.’s late decision to pit under a green flag and won the Shriners Children’s 500 at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday.

Bell had more than a six-second lead over Chris Buescher and Ty Gibbs with 10 laps to go as he hoped for no cautions before the white flag. His prayers were answered, and he was able to guide the No. 20 Toyota Camry to Victory Lane and pick up some crucial points early in the Cup Series season.

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Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 Rheem Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Shriners Children’s 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Arizona. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Bell was 20th on the final restart and worked his way up to the front.

“This one feels really good,” he told FOX Sports. “You don’t get cars like that every often – just super, super proud, proud to be on this (No.) 20 car. This Rheem Camry was amazing today. I feel like we have capability of running races like this a lot.”

“Hopefully, this is the first of many this year.”

Gibbs and Buescher fought for second place down the stretch, with both of them being too far behind Bell to catch up. But the No. 17 was able to hold off Gibbs for second. Brad Keselowski and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.

Chris Buescher at practice

Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 17 BuildSubmarines.com Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Shriners Children’s 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 8, 2024, in Avondale, Arizona. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

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Truex Jr.’s gamble to stay on the track with the lead while the rest of the leaders pitted didn’t pay off. He needed to change his tires with 41 laps to go and gave up his lead. He fell right off the top 15 as soon as he got to pit road, but he was able to claw his way back. He finished in seventh.

It was Bell’s seventh win of his career. He won two in 2023: at Bristol for the dirt race and at Homestead-Miami. His win also helped negate two straight poor finishes in 2024.

After finishing third at Daytona, he was 34th at Atlanta and 33rd in Las Vegas.

Despite winning two out of the first three races, Hendrick Motorsports had a tough day at the track as Kyle Larson finished the best out of all of his teammates. He was in 11th. His teammate, William Byron, who won the Daytona 500, finished 18th.

Bell won Stage 2 and Tyler Reddick won Stage 1. 

Ty Gibbs races

Ty Gibbs, driver of the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Shriners Children’s 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Arizona. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

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The NASCAR Cup Series season drives on to Bristol next weekend.

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