Bell wins, Chastin climbs the wall to earn a spot in the title race

Christopher Bell won his way to NASCAR’s championship race, while Ross Chastain used moves better suited to video games to advance in Sunday’s thrilling regular season finale at Martinsville Speedway.

Bell had to win next week at Phoenix Raceway to advance to the Final 4. Bell also advanced with two wins as he won the final race of the second round of the playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

But this victory was different.

“As I always say, drivers are just one small piece of the puzzle in these races,” Bell said. “The reason this car won today is because it was the best car on the race track. Adam Stevens, Tyler Williams, this whole group of 20 guys never gave up. It looks like it’s over when I hit the , they show up and give me the fastest car here.

“I don’t know, man. Words can’t describe this feeling.”

Bell, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Chastain are the final four drivers in the Cup Series winner-take-all finale.

Chastain pinned the Chevrolet to the outer wall of the 0.526-mile speedway, making it about 70 mph faster than the rest of the field when it climbed from 10th to 5th to give Truckhouse Racing its first championship berth. I was sailing fast.

Chastain attributes the dramatic move on the final lap to his playing video games.

“Oh, I played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube with[my brother]Chad,” he said. “You can get away with it. I wasn’t sure if that would actually work.

“I mean, I did it when I was eight. I grabbed fifth gear and asked if I needed it on the last lap and I did. I let go and grabbed 5th gear in the back, full commit, basically let go of the steering wheel, hoping it didn’t get stuck in the turn 4 access gate or something else. I was happy to do it.”

Hamlin was disappointed but impressed.

“Great move. Great. Definitely a great move. It sure is easy to do when you have no other choice. But well executed,” he said.

Bell passed Chase Briscoe, who he needed to win to advance to the championship, with five laps left to earn an automatic berth into the championship race. Caught in Bubba Wallace’s retaliation for Kyle Larson in Las Vegas was Bell, who was collected in that crash and fell last of the eight drivers.

He knew from then on that Bell needed a win to contend for his first Cup title, and he did it at NASCAR’s oldest track.


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