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Christopher Bell Steals A Championship Four Spot in Miami

Miami. One of the busiest tourist destinations in the United States. It is also one of the fan-favorite stops on the NASCAR circuit. For years, Homestead was the season finale race for the main three NASCAR touring series. Now, Homestead serves as the second race of the Round of Eight in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Even with Miami not being the season finale, it still produces great racing. And once again, great racing was produced in Miami. But it was an unexpected Playoff Driver(Christopher Bell) coming out on top on Sunday evening with the win, and a Championship Four Spot.

A Clutch Win for Bell:

Last weekend in Las Vegas, it was Kyle Larson over Christopher Bell in a close finish on the last lap. In his post-race interview, Bell beat himself up for not trying hard enough to get by Larson. With this determination by Bell to get to victory lane again, he held his head high going into Homestead. Right from the start, it seemed that it was going to be another Kyle Larson-dominated race. Larson would win the first stage in dominating fashion. For the second stage, it would be won by Ryan Blaney after Larson struggled to get around lapped traffic. At the end of the second stage, Bell was on the verge of becoming a lap-down. With good strategy, and maybe a lucky break with a caution, Bell was finally in contention for the win with around 40 laps to go.

After a restart with 38 laps to go, Bell would make a three-wide move going into turn three on Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney to gain the lead of the race. With another restart with 25 laps to go, William Byron would take the lead from Blaney. Eventually, Bell would hunt Byron down for the lead and took it away from Byron with 15 laps to go. After that, Bell never looked back. Christopher Bell locked himself into the Championship Four for the second straight year, and this is his first win at Homestead. This is also his second win of the season and the sixth of his career. But what happened to Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin who were in contention for the win throughout the race?

Trouble for Playoff Drivers:

Last week in Las Vegas, it was a calm day for all the Playoff Drivers. This weekend, it was quite the opposite. As previously said, it was looking like it was going to be a battle between Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney for the race win. As the green flag pit cycle began with 55 laps to go, Blaney led Larson onto pit road with a slight lead. When they were coming onto pit road, Larson tried to close the gap between him and Blaney and overstepped the limits. Larson would end up hitting the sand barrels on the end of pit road, resulting in a DNF for Larson. Lucky for Larson, he is already into the Championship Four at Phoenix in two weeks with his win in Las Vegas. This is when the chaos started to unravel.

With 32 laps to go, going into turn one, Denny Hamlin would have a flat right front tire, which resulted in Hamlin slamming into the wall. This resulted in a DNF for Hamlin. Exactly one minute after Hamlin had his issues, his JGR teammate, Martin Truex Jr, had issues of his own. Before the caution came out for Hamlin, Truex reported to his crew that the car was acting weird. Under the caution for Hamlin, the engine expired on the Truex machine. Now heading into the cutoff race for the Round of Eight, both Hamlin and Truex are facing elimination. While both Hamlin and Truex both have multiple wins at the next stop on the schedule, they are both facing elimination from the Playoffs.

What to Expect from Martinsville:

Martinsville is a fan-favorite track on the NASCAR Circuit. For the past few years, there has not been great racing at Martinsville thanks to the Next-Gen car. The Spring Martinsville race earlier this year was better than both Martinsville races last season, but not by much. As previously said, both Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin have multiple wins at Martinsville. They will have a good shot at getting into the Championship Four this coming Sunday. But it will be a tough task for both to get in on points, one of them will have to win on Sunday. In that case, keep an eye on Denny Hamlin on Sunday. In recent years, Hamlin has been known to stir up conflict at Martinsville. It would not be a shocker to see Hamlin in victory lane on Sunday, with the possibility of getting into some conflict as well.

Current Playoff Standings:

1st: Christopher Bell: Advanced to the Championship Four.

2nd: Kyle Larson: Advanced to the Championship Four.

3rd: William Byron: +30 points above the cutline.

4th: Ryan Blaney: +10 points above the cutline.

5th: Tyler Reddick: -10 points below the cutline.

6thMartin Truex Jr: -17 points below the cutline.

7th: Denny Hamlin: -17 points below the cutline.

8thChris Buescher: -43 points below the cutline.

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