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NASCAR: Christopher Bell wins rain-delayed New Hampshire race

NASCAR: Christopher Bell wins rain-delayed New Hampshire race

Christopher Bell won NASCAR’s marathon Cup Series race at New Hampshire on Sunday.

Bell won the rain-delayed race ahead of Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry as the entire field was using rain tires. After a two-hour rain delay, the final segment of the race was run on rain tires as NASCAR wanted to get the race restarted as soon as possible following the red flag for rain.

Bell took over the lead on lap 242 of the scheduled 301-lap race and led the rest of the way. He retained the lead for the final 64 laps after two cautions flew for spins in the final 10 scheduled laps.

The race ended up taking more than six hours to complete and lasting 305 laps following Brad Keselowski's spin with less than three laps to go. His spin came after the penultimate caution of the race when Michael McDowell took out Ryan Blaney with nine laps to go as the two raced for second behind Bell.

Bell had a great car before it started raining too. He led a race-high 149 laps after starting second as no other driver led more than 53 laps. It’s the third win of the season for Bell after he won at Phoenix in the spring and the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600.

It was the second time this season that part of a Cup Series race had been run with rain tires. The Richmond race this spring started with teams on rain tires before NASCAR stopped the race for teams to put slick tires on.

And just like Richmond, NASCAR was heavy-handed in its rain tire management. Teams weren’t permitted to change to slick tires if they felt the track was dry enough and were only allowed to change sets of rain tires when NASCAR allowed.

NASCAR's tire protocols made for a confusing end to the race. When Ross Chastain brought out the first caution after the red flag, some teams wanted to change to new rain tires. After they performed their pit stops, NASCAR made them put their previous set of rain tires back on.

NASCAR then let teams change rain tires twice before the end of the race as a track dried out and chewed up the treaded tires. However, the pit stops were non-competitive, meaning drivers rejoined the track in the same position they occupied at the time of the caution flag.

Had the race been called at lap 219, Tyler Reddick was set to get his second victory of the season. Reddick pitted on lap 156 and inherited the lead when he didn’t pit at the end of the second stage. A flurry of cautions to start the third stage helped keep Reddick in the lead before it started raining.

That caution flurry was a sign of things to come. After the race resumed on a damp track, there were six cautions for incidents within the final 70 laps. Overall, there were 14 cautions. That's the most at any New Hampshire race since 2002.

Kyle Busch started 30th and was quickly lapped in the opening stage of the race. Things didn’t get much better from there. Busch was officially involved in two cautions but was a part of three spins or crashes as his day ended right after the red flag.

The first crash came on lap 155 when Busch hit the wall following contact with Noah Gragson. On lap 217, Busch went spinning on the backstretch right before the race was stopped for rain.

Busch’s team tried to fix the car after the second spin and he was still on the lead lap. However, he had an apparent part failure before the race went back green after the rain delay and smashed into the wall.

Busch finished 35th for the second consecutive week and the third time in the last four races. Busch has now finished outside the top 20 in eight of 18 races this season and is 17th in the points standings.

1. Christopher Bell

2. Chase Briscoe

3. Josh Berry

4. Kyle Larson

5. Chris Buescher

6. Tyler Reddick

7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

8. John Hunter Nemechek

9. Martin Truex Jr.

10. Ross Chastain

11. Ryan Preece

12. Todd Gilliland

13. Erik Jones

14. Harrison Burton

15. Michael McDowell

16. Ty Gibbs

17. Carson However

18. Chase Elliott

19. Austin Cindric

20. Ty Dillon

21. Daniel Suarez

22. Kaz Grala

23. Corey LaJoie

24. Denny Hamlin

25. Ryan Blaney

26. William Byron

27. Noah Gragson

28. Brad Keselowski

29. Justin Haley

30. Zane Smith

31. Daniel Hemric

32. Joey Logano

33. Austin Dillon

34. Bubba Wallace

35. Kyle Busch

36. Alex Bowman

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