NCS: Late surge propels Bell to Championship 4 as teammates playoff shot diminishes

The start of the 4Ever 400 was a drag race between two Toyota’s when Wallace would clear Truex in the first turn of the race, but Truex would have none of it racing back to the line to lead the first lap by mere inches. But it would end there with the pair continuing to drag race until Wallace would finally laps later clear for the lead.

Truex would once again mount a charge on the lead, but it would be in vain after getting to the bumper of Wallace only to fall back in line. It wouldn’t end there with Truex when five laps later would once again take charge of the race getting around Wallace.

The lead would once again swap for the third time in 20 laps when a fast-charging William Byron would take the lead away from Truex after working himself by a half-dozen cars.

Green flag pit stops would once again shake things up when Keselowski would beat Byron off pit road to take over the lead. Byron would also get passed during the stops by Larson sending him back to the third spot when the first stops of the day were completed.

Larson would work over the next 13 laps, finally running down Keselowski to take control of the lead.

Caution would come out for the first time of the day with three laps remaining in the stage when Stenhouse would go for a spin down the back, limping the car back to pit road with tires down on the day. This would hand the first stage win of the day to Larson followed by Keselowski, Blaney, Byron and Truex rounding out the top-five.

Stage two would nearly go wire-to-wire with Larson leading 69 of the laps in the stage when Blaney would charge through the field with just three laps to go, taking the lead away from Larson.

Byron would make his way around Larson following the tire tracks of Blaney to finish the stage second followed by Larson, Hamlin, and Keselowski to round out the top-five finishers in the stage.

The final stage would begin with a back-and-forth battle between Blaney and Byron who would take control of the race for the second time of the day. Byron lead however would only last a lap before Blaney would once again power by bringing along Hamlin for second.

With what might have been the final stops of the day caution would come out when Larson who was chasing down Blaney for the lead would slam into the barrels at the end of pit road coming in for service.

Larson’s car would sustain right front damage causing the team to work on it on pit road putting Larson several laps down before the team would send the No. 5 machine to the garage ending his dominant day at Homestead.

“Yeah, that’s just it. I was just trying to push it as much as I could. He (Ryan Blaney) had a great car and I felt like if he was to come off pit road the leader, he was going to end up winning the race or beating me. I was just trying to maximize my pit-in, and honestly I felt like I was doing a really good job.” Said Larson

“I just didn’t anticipate him slowing down as much as he did. But on the replay, it looks like I just missed it by a lot. I need to look at data. I knew where the yellow line was and thought I was going to be under control getting there, and then yeah, he just slowed down – I locked the brakes up, slid to the right and clipped him and the barrels.” Continued Larson

When racing would get back underway it wouldn’t last long within a half-lap Chastain, Yeley and Nemechek would all collide on the back to bring out the fourth caution of the day. All three would end up in the garage ending their day within laps of the finish.

Racing would pick up on the restart with a three-wide battle for second as Bell had cleared for the lead. Hamlin would try and work on Blaney and Byron before the three would settle it out with Byron taking the second spot with Hamlin and Blaney trying to settle the third spot.

Hamlin would end up smacking the wall racing Blaney on the outside taking his car to pit road before the team would wave him off and have the car towed to the garage with broken steering. But Joe Gibbs Racing’s problems weren’t over when under caution smoke would pour from the No. 19 machine exhaust sending him to the garage also with an expired engine.

Both drivers would end up below the cut line following their exit from the race.

Blaney would once again challenge Byron for the race lead on the restart taking it away just briefly at the line before Byron would charge back clearing the way for Bell to make the move on Blaney for second.

Bell would then set his sights on Byron for the race lead closing on the bumper with 15 laps remaining making the pass for the lead at the line by a mere 0.006 seconds over Byron before clearing for the lead heading into turns one and two.

As the field would battle it out behind him, Bell would slowly open the gap with the lead with ease making a bad day for Joe Gibbs Racing a good day taking home the win in the 4Ever 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway over Blaney, Reddick, Byron and AJ Allmendinger.

‘Honestly, I don’t know, man. That race was a whirlwind. I was ready to throw the towel in there in the second stage. I got frustrated on the radio. Adam kept after it. Adam, Tyler, William, the guys back at the shop were working over the adjustments and gave me what I needed. Whenever we got some clean air, this thing was really good.” Said Bell

The NASCAR Cup Series moves onto their penultimate race next Sunday, October 29th at Martinsville Speedway for the Xfinity 500 to set the four drivers moving onto Phoenix Raceway for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.