NASCAR Bristol Dirt Race results: Christopher Bell holds off Tyler Reddick to pick up first win of 2023

gettyimages-1481080524-1.jpg
Getty Images

Christopher Bell held off Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and several other NASCAR Cup Series stars with dirt racing backgrounds to win the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, picking up his first win of the 2023 season and the fifth win of his Cup career. Bell took the lead to start Stage 3 after staying out under the final stage break, then held it throughout the final 100 laps thanks in part to running all the way up on the cushion to hold off Reddick, Briscoe and others.

Bell's win was secured on the final lap when a caution came out for a crash on the backstretch, which thwarted a potential last-ditch effort by Reddick to try and score the win. In three Bristol Dirt races so far, Bell's win is the first for any driver with an extensive background in dirt racing.

Food City Dirt Race unofficial results

  1. #20 - Christopher Bell
  2. #45 - Tyler Reddick
  3. #3 - Austin Dillon
  4. #47 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  5. #14 - Chase Briscoe
  6. #31 - Justin Haley
  7. #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
  8. #38 - Todd Gilliland
  9. #4 - Kevin Harvick
  10. #54 - Ty Gibbs (R)

In a race that had been won by drivers who grew up racing on asphalt in its first two runnings, Bell led the way among the contingent of NASCAR Cup Series stars who grew up racing on dirt. All of the top five finishers have extensive experience in either dirt late models or sprint cars, experience that helped Bell tread a delicate line up top with little margin for error.

"Those were some of the longest laps of my entire life," Bell told Fox Sports. "This place is so much fun whether it's dirt or concrete, and whenever the cushion got up there on the top, it was very tough because you couldn't drive it super hard. Otherwise you'd get sucked in -- if you got your right front into it you'd push a little bit, if you got your right rear into it, you'd slide. It was a lot of fun."

Beyond Bell and Reddick in first and second, the top five was filled out by other dirt aces like Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe. Dillon and Briscoe both scored their best finishes of the season, while Stenhouse posted his second top five at Bristol Dirt and his first top five since winning the Daytona 500 in February.

Preece Parks Larson

In Stage 1 of Sunday's race, it appeared as though the Bristol Dirt Race would be Kyle Larson's to lose. After starting from the pole, Larson led the first 75 laps of the race and looked like he would be a factor all night. And perhaps he would have been, had he not gotten on the wrong side of Ryan Preece.

While racing each other for fifth early in Stage 2, Larson ran Preece up the racetrack off Turn 4 and onto the frontstretch, causing Preece to make a significant right side impact with the outside wall. Preece let his displeasure with Larson be known under the next caution, and the Modified standout from New England was even less thrilled when he spun after breaking a right rear toe link later on.

"You know what I'm sick of? ... Excuses," Preece said on his team radio. " From now on, I think it's game over."

"There's got to be a repercussion for things or people are gonna continue to do it, right?", a crew member said in response.

For Larson, the repercussion came with 76 laps to go. With Preece running the outside line, Larson tried to squeeze his car between Preece and the wall up on the cushion, leading to the two colliding yet again. Preece then appeared to hang a right into Larson's car on the entry to Turn 1, spinning Larson into the outside wall and ending his night.

Speaking to Fox Sports afterwards, Larson quickly surmised exactly what Preece's motivations were: "I'm guessing he was paying me back for whatever I did earlier and ran me straight in the fence," he said.

For his part, Preece claimed while speaking to reporters that the contact between himself and Larson was purely accidental, giving himself a solid alibi.

"I mean, I don't race dirt. I don't know," Preece said. "I tried running the top ... I know he was making speed up top, and I tried to move up there and we were too loose. Ultimately, I still agree that a lot of people are going to stand their ground, but by no means was that intentional. I was just trying to get all I could."

Preece's frustrations had been mounting heading into Bristol, as he has had several good runs early in the season get ruined by accidents not of his own making. Unfortunately for Preece, that trend continued after he was collected in the crash on the last lap and finished 24th.

The Spin Cycle

With cornering on dirt amounting to what's essentially a controlled slide, quite a number of drivers ended up stepping over the edge of out of control on Sunday night. The yellow flag flew 14 times, and several more incidents occurred that did not draw a caution.

Some spins were much more spectacular than others, with some drivers having a particularly dizzying night. Perhaps the highlight spins of the evening belonged to Michael McDowell, who did a complete 360 in front of traffic before driving off on one occasion -- and then immediately did the same thing several laps later before eventually finishing 11th.

Race Results Rundown

  • Back in the day, drivers like Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and Ricky Craven had the honor of piloting the fabled orange and yellow Tide Ride. Sunday night was Justin Haley's turn, and he would come out looking squeaky clean in sixth place -- his best finish of the 2023 season and his second top 10 of the year.
  • One week after a late caution and a miscommunication on pit strategy ruined his chance to win at Richmond, Martin Truex Jr. was finally able to put a complete race together and came home seventh. That ties Truex's best finish of the entire season, and it also marks just his second top-10 finish this year.
  • Todd Gilliland's hot streak continues, as he was able to make his way up into the top five in Stage 3 by employing the same strategy that Christopher Bell and nine other cars did. Gilliland stayed there throughout the rest of the night before finishing eighth, giving him his second top 10 in the last three races and his fourth straight top-15 finish.
  • For the fourth straight week, Ty Gibbs finished in the top 10 with a 10th-place finish. Gibbs' top 10 streak has allowed him to widen what is becoming a significant gap between him and Noah Gragson in the Rookie of the Year fight. Despite a promising run, Gragson broke a toe link with around 50 laps to go and finished many laps down in 33rd.
  • At one point, Harrison Burton picked up an unwelcome passenger when a sponsor banner got ripped off the wall and lodged itself on the nose of his Ford Mustang. That oversized piece of debris, however, didn't stop Burton from finishing 15th to tie his season-best finish.
  • Journeyman driver J.J. Yeley turned heads by qualifying third to earn his first top-10 starting spot in any Cup race since late in the 2007 season. Yeley later fell back to midpack, but he would earn a 20th-place finish -- his first top 20 in any Cup race since he finished 12th at Daytona in July 2019.
  • After finishing fourth in the Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, series great Matt Crafton made his third career Cup start subbing for Cody Ware, who missed Sunday's race due to a personal matter. Crafton would suffer an engine failure after 185 laps and finished 34th.
  • Jonathan Davenport may be Superman in dirt late models, but the jump to racing Cup on dirt ended up being kryptonite for one of the biggest stars in dirt racing. Davenport spun out to draw the yellow flag early in Stage 2, then got collected in Kyle Larson's dustup with Ryan Preece and finished 36th in his first Cup start.

Next Race

The NASCAR Cup Series gets back to racing on asphalt next weekend with a trip to the timeless Martinsville Speedway for the NOCO 400 next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.

Updates
(159)
 
Pinned
Link copied

Crash on the backstretch, and Ross Chastain can't make it back around before stopping in Turns 3 and 4. That'll bring the caution out to end the race, and Christopher Bell will score his first win of the 2023 season on the dirt in Bristol!

1 - #20 - Christopher Bell
2 - #45 - Tyler Reddick
3 - #3 - Austin Dillon
4 - #47 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
5 - #14 - Chase Briscoe
6 - #31 - Justin Haley
7 - #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
8 - #38 - Todd Gilliland
9 - #4 - Kevin Harvick
10 - #34 - Michael McDowell

See New Posts
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 3:23 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 11:23 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 3:11 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 11:11 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 3:04 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 11:04 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:48 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:48 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:46 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:46 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:39 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:39 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:31 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:31 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:22 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:22 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:15 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:15 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:11 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:11 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:10 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:10 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:07 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:07 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:07 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:07 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:03 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:03 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:00 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:00 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 2:00 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 10:00 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 1:57 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 9:57 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied

Reddick makes up a few carlengths. White flag this time by!

 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 1:57 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 9:57 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied

Tyler Reddick hasn't been able to close in on Christopher Bell as of yet. He's got three laps to try and make something happen.

 
Pinned
Link copied

Around goes Ryan Blaney in Turn 2! Somehow no one hits him, but his chances of winning are done and over with.

It's back to Bell and Reddick at the front. Both drivers up to the cushion. Ricky Stenhouse moves up to third coming to five to go.

 
Pinned
Link copied

Blaney chooses the inside line at the Choose Drone, which will move him up to the front for this next restart. Bell starts first in the outside line with Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon behind him.

Green flag with eight laps to go!

 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCARONFOX via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 1:53 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 9:53 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied

Something broke in both the right front and right rear of Kyle Busch's car. The defending winner of this race will not go to Victory Lane tonight.

Keep your eye on Ryan Blaney: Blaney made his way to third on that last run, which is exactly where this race was won from one year ago. Blaney comes from a long line of dirt racers, a group which includes World of Outlaws ace and former Cup journeyman Dave Blaney.

 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 1:52 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 9:52 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied

Reddick is starting to take a bite out of Bell's lead. The gap is down to under half a second and now the caution is out for either a spin by Kyle Busch or debris from the wall that's nestled on Harrison Burton's nose. Honestly not sure which.

 
Pinned
Link copied

Less than 20 laps to go now for Christopher Bell. Bell has a six tenth of a second lead on Tyler Reddick, with both running up on the cushion at the top of the racetrack.

 
Pinned
Link copied
@NASCAR via Twitter
April 10, 2023, 1:47 AM
Apr. 09, 2023, 9:47 pm EDT
 
Pinned
Link copied

Briscoe had to check up for Bell, and it put Briscoe up in the cushion and caused him to lose some momentum. Reddick almost made the pass for second, but Briscoe was able to keep it wound up on the high side.

Now Reddick puts the slidejob on Briscoe, and he puts Briscoe in the fence! A role reversal from last year's finish as Reddick takes second!

J.J. Yeley spun off Turn 2, but he continues. Now Briscoe's in the fence again and has fallen back to fifth.

See More

Share Video

Link copied!
  • Image thumbnail
    Live

    CBS Sports HQ

  • Image thumbnail
    0:37

    Never seen this before: Rockies win on walk-off pitch clock violation against Nationals | Highlights

  • Image thumbnail
    2:13

    Highlights: Glasnow strikes out 10 and Ohtani homers against his old team

  • Image thumbnail
    3:07

    Highlights: Braves at Yankees

  • Image thumbnail
    1:23

    Highlights: Saturday Olympic Minute

  • Image thumbnail
    0:48

    Brock Purdy explains his love for Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

  • Image thumbnail
    2:12

    Pick To Win Game 7 Between Oilers And Panthers

  • Image thumbnail
    1:54

    WNBA Highlights: Clark scores 16 as Fever beat Dream for 4th straight win

  • Image thumbnail
    1:46

    Jordan Love Up For Extension After Just 1 Full Year Starting

  • Image thumbnail
    1:37

    Tua Tagovailoa Entering Final Year Of Rookie Contract

  • Image thumbnail
    1:32

    Cowboys Yet To Extend Dak Prescott Amid Other QB's Getting Paid

  • Image thumbnail
    1:43

    Rookie Angel Reese sets WNBA record with her seventh straight double-double | Highlights