Reigning: Christopher Bells Rolls Wet Weather Tires To Cup Series USA Today 301 Victory At NHMS 

Christopher Bell celebrates with Loudon the Lobster in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series USA Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. – In the week leading up to the NASCAR Cup Series USA Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the prevailing thought for many looking at weather forecasts for the Loudon area was that the chance of getting the event run was low. 

But then there was also the chatter of NASCAR decision to bring its wet weather tires to Loudon for a possible debut of the endeavor to make racing on damp conditions on an oval reality. 

And the good news, despite a more than two hour rain delay that drenched the track, the USA Today 301 was run to completion, with the final 76 laps run on a wet track. 

For the first time in series history, the track used wet weather tires on a damp oval during competition. 

And Christopher Bell had a blast doing, rolling to victory and a weekend sweep at NHMS. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver also won the Xfinity Series SciAps 200 on Saturday at NHMS. 

The racing on the wet weather tires made for a wildly entertaining closing stage as drivers used numerous grooves and lanes under green flag conditions. 

But nobody could come close to overtaking Bell in the wet conditions. The race restarted on lap 229 after the rain. Bell went by Tyler Reddick for the lead on lap 242 and went unchallenged the rest of the way. The race was extended to 305 laps due to a late caution. 

“For NASCAR to run in the rain like that — or not in the rain, but run in the damp conditions on an oval, I mean, it ended up being hopefully a good show,” Bell said. “You can answer that more than me, but I had a blast. It made it different. That’s what the key is to having successful races and entertainment. Hopefully that was entertaining because it was something different, something new, and nobody knew what to expect and what to do. The guys that figured it out the quickest were the most successful.” 

NASCAR introduced the wet weather tire as a way to run on certain wet or damp ovals. The tires are not for running oval events while rain is falling. Bell called the wet track racing similar to dirt track racing. 

“Yeah, they’re just a lot of fun,” Bell said of the wet weather tires. “What we’ve lost in the Next Gen car of being able to slide the car around and run the car really loose, yeah, I can’t describe it better than that, but we get that back on the rain tires. Whenever the track is damp, you’re able to slide the car around more and drive it hanging out more, drive it on the right rear more. It’s a lot of fun doing that for sure.” 

Light rain began around 4:30 pm bringing out the red flag with 219 laps complete. The off and on light rain turned into a drenching downpour by about 5:40. By 5:55 pm the heavy rain had let up and clearing skies were showing. The race ended just after 8 p.m., with darkness quickly settling in. 

Chase Briscoe was second and Josh Berry, giving Stewart-Haas Racing a rare two thirds of the podium.

“The rain saved us,” Briscoe said. “Awesome recovery for our Zep Ford. I’ve always joked this is one of my worst racetracks, so to run second is kind of surprising, to be honest with you. But, yeah, the rain definitely helped us. If it wasn’t for the rain, we literally would’ve run 24th, probably. We were able to have a couple of good restarts. Our guys did a really good job just understanding the rain balance. I think we learned a lot when we did it at Richmond. We needed a good turnaround day. It definitely didn’t start that way, but I’m certainly glad that it ended that way.” 

Said Berry: “Man, that was a lot of fun, honestly. I’m going to think back to a million different things I could’ve done differently there.” 

Former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece was 11th. (Read more here from a frustrated Preece). 


  1. Sounds like we may be getting a September visit to NHMS next year.

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