Bell wins the rain tire chaos on the Magic Mile

Christopher Bell won the 18th NASCAR Cup race of the regular season at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in his Gibbs Toyota after a rain interruption and overtime. It was Bell’s third win of the season, his second success in Loudon and the ninth victory in his Cup career. It was also his fifth top-10 result in a row.

After training and qualifying could not take place on Saturday due to the weather, the start of the race was brought forward by 30 minutes due to the renewed risk of rain. The race was able to continue until lap 219 of 301, when the rain started. The race had to be interrupted for 2 hours and 15 minutes before it was continued on rain tires.

Polesetter Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports) leads after the start
Polesetter Chase Elliott (#9 Hendrick Motorsports) at the start, Photo: Getty Images / NASCAR

Stage 1/2: Bell and Hamlin win the stages

According to the rulebook, the rain pole went to Chase Elliott in the Hendrick Chevrolet. Elliott led the field for the first 41 laps before Bell, who started from fourth position, took the lead and won the first stage after 70 laps. After his seventh stage win, Bell continued to lead the field until lap 125.

Todd Gilliland then took over the lead for 19 laps. Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin had only started the race from 14th position. At the end of Stage 1 he was seventh. The recovery ended with first place from lap 145. After 185 laps, Hamlin had won a stage for the fourth time this season. He clearly had the best car at this point and won ahead of his teammate Martin Truex Junior and Joey Logano in the Penske-Ford.

Denny Hamlin in the Gibbs Toyota
Denny Hamlin (#11 Joe Gibbs Racing) wins Stage 2, Photo: LAT Images

Stage 3/Finish: Thunderstorm, rain tires, 11 yellow phases, extra time, Bell with magic restarts

The rain started on lap 219. Hamlin, Bell and Tyler Reddick in the 23XI-Toyta had previously led the race from lap 189. The red flag was given. Reddick hoped for a red flag, but NASCAR was determined to continue the race. After a 135-minute break, the race continued on rain tires.

Reddick led at the restart ahead of defending champion Ryan Blaney and Hamlin. Bell took the lead from Reddick with 59 laps to go and held it until the end of overtime after a total of 305 laps. With sensational restarts, Bell was able to fend off every attack and won by leading 149 laps.

Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing) celebrates his 3rd win of the season in Victory Lane
Christopher Bell (#20 Joe Gibbs Racing) celebrates in Victory Lane at the Magic Mile of Loudon, Photo: LAT Images

Top 10 & overall standings

Behind Bell, Chase Briscoe in the Stewart-Haas-Ford took second place. It was his best finish this year. His teammate Josh Berry managed third place for the second time in his rookie year. At the same time, Berry was the best-placed rookie for the eighth time. Kyle Larson took fourth place ahead of Chris Buescher, Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Junior, John Hunter Nemechek, Truex and Ross Chastain in tenth place.

Pole setter Chase Elliott was pushed down to 18th place after the last restart. Hamlin lost a total of 21 positions on rain tires and only finished 24th. Champion Blaney finished one place behind. There were a total of 14 yellow phases over 85 laps and only six lead changes by five drivers.

Larson continues to lead the overall standings with three victories and 620 points. Hamlin, Byron and Loudon winner Bell also won three races. Six drivers follow with one victory, led by Elliott, who also collected 620 points. Logano managed a comeback into the top 16, but Bubba Wallace was eliminated after being innocently involved in an accident.

Goodyear rain tires
Rain tires changed the course of the race decisively, Photo: LAT Images

Gallery: All pictures from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Statistics for the 18th race of the season (Regular Season)

Laps & race duration:
301+4 (Stages: 70/115/116+4) laps (322.69 miles), race time: 3:48:14 hours
Christopher Bell (3rd win 2024, 2nd Loudon win, 9th career win)
Best driver with the most points:
Christopher Bell, 57 (10/7/40) points
Stage wins (2024):
Stage 1: Christopher Bell (7)
Top 10: #20, 22, 9, 12, 4, 19, 11, 1, 45, 48
Stage 2: Denny Hamlin (4)
Top 10: #11, 19, 22, 20, 12, 38, 5, 4, 9, 1
Stage 3/Goal: Christopher Bell (3rd win 2024)
Top 10: #20, 14, 4, 5, 17, 45, 47, 42, 19, 1

NASCAR Cup standings
TOP 20 (after race 18/36)

Regular Season 2024
(with all bonus points & penalties)
all winners (races 1-26):
1. (1) Kyle Larson, 620 points (3 wins)
2. (2) Denny Hamlin, 580 points (3 wins)
3. (4) Christopher Bell, 555 points (3 wins)
4. (3) William Byron, 548 points (3 wins)
5. (5) Chase Elliott, 620 points (1 win)
6. (6) Tyler Reddick, 560 points (1 win)
7. (7) Ryan Blaney, 526 points (1 win)
8. (8) Brad Keselowski, 507 points (1 win)
9. (9) Daniel Suarez, 368 points (1 win)
10. (10) Austin Cindric, 345 points (1 win)
Total points (without win):
11. (11) Martin Truex Jr., 572 points
12. (12) Ross Chastain, 510 points
13. (13) Ty Gibbs, 499 points
14. (14) Alex Bowman, 476 points
15. (15) Chris Buescher, 467 points
16. (17) Joey Logano, 430 points
On the bubble:
17. (16) Bubba Wallace, 417 points
18. (19) Chase Briscoe, 405 points
19. (18) Kyle Busch, 385 points
20. (20) Todd Gilliland, 347 points
The first 16 drivers are qualified for the PLAYOFFS

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