Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain booked their places in NASCAR 2022’s championship decider in Pheonix, after a thrilling end to the Xfinity 500 at the Martinsville Speedway.
Bell, who entered the race needing to win to continue his championship bid, did so for the second time in the 2022 Play-Offs after his heroics at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
However, the real star of the race was Ross Chastain who facing the prospect of elimination threw his car onto the outside, and let it drag across the wall to finish fifth and secure his place in the final four.
Bell takes crucial win
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver beat last year’s champion and pole man Kyle Larson by 0.869 seconds, to take possibly one of the most important wins in his career.
“I can’t believe it, man,” Bell said after the race.
“To come here in Martinsville, this place has always been so tough on me. Just pre-race looking up, seeing all the fans, this place is packed… I don’t even know what to say.
“Man, I say it all the time, but the driver is just a small piece of the puzzle for these races. The reason why this car won today is because it was the best car on the race track.
“(Crew chief) Adam Stevens… this entire 20 group, they just never give up. When our back is against the wall, looks like it’s over, they show up and give me the fastest car out here.”
Chastain’s stunning end
Running in tenth, Trackhouse’s Chastain threw caution to the wind and pulled off one of the greatest moves in NASCAR history.
The stunning sequence of overtakes saw Chastain finish fifth and knock out fellow championship contender Denny Hamlin in dramatic fashion.
“I made the choice, grabbed fifth gear down the back,” Chastain said after the race.
“Fully committed. Basically let go of the wheel, hoping I didn’t catch the Turn 4 access gate or something crazy. But I was willing to do it.
“I just cannot believe that we have a chance to go fight for a championship. All we ask for is a chance. We kept our world small this year so far. We’ll do the same thing going to Phoenix.”
The final four
Joining Bell and Chastain in the final four will be Joey Logano, who won the South Point 400 in Las Vegas, and Chase Elliot who finished in the Top 10 and managed to squeeze his way into the championship showdown in Phoenix.
The four drivers eliminated from the Play-Offs were Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney, and William Byron.
The final race of the 2022 NASCAR season will be the aptly named NASCAR Cup Series Championship, which will be held at the Pheonix Raceway on November 6, 2022.
Xfinity 500 Top 10 Results
|1||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||3:24’18.046|
|2||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsport||+0.869|
|3||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||+2.228|
|4||Ross Chastain||Trackhouse Racing||+2.919|
|5||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||+2.992|
|6||Joey Logano||Team Penske||+3.341|
|7||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsport||+3.395|
|8||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||+3.741|
|9||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||+4.862|
|10||Chase Elliot||Hendrick Motorsport||+5.283|