Bell wins and Chastain dazzles to earn spots in title race
By HANK KURZ Jr.
(AP) -- Christopher Bell won his way into NASCAR's championship race, while Ross Chastain used a move more suited for a video game to also advance in Sunday's thrilling regular season finale at Martinsville Speedway.
Bell had to win to advance to the final four next week at Phoenix Raceway and he pulled it off to give Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota one spot in the finale. Bell also won on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course in the final race of the second round of the playoffs, so has now twice advanced with victories.
The final four drivers in the Cup Series winner-take-all finale are Joe Logano, Bell, Chase Elliott and Chastain, who bumped foe Denny Hamlin from the championship with his spectacular last-lap scramble.
Chastain pinned his Chevrolet against the outside wall of the 0.526-mile speedway and was sailing at some 70 mph faster than the rest of the field as he went from 10th to fifth to give Trackhouse Racing its first championship appearance.
Bell passed Chase Briscoe, who also needed to win to advance to the championship, with five laps to go to earn the automatic berth into the championship race. It was Bell who was caught in Bubba Wallace's retaliation of Kyle Larson at Las Vegas and Bell being collected in that crash dropped him to last of the eight drivers.
He knew since then it would take a victory for Bell to race for his first Cup title, and he pulled it off on NASCAR's oldest track.
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Updated October 30, 2022