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Christopher Bell wins on rain tires to take the checkered flag in Cup race at New Hampshire

Chase Elliott (9) steers his car while leading a tight pack as they enter Turn 2 during a NASCAR Cup Series race, Sunday, June 23, 2024, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Christopher Bell mastered the NASCAR Cup Series’ first race ever that ended with cars running on rain tires and pulled away after a 2 hour, 15-minute weather delay to beat darkness and the field and win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell won his third Cup race of the season and swept the weekend at New Hampshire following Saturday’s win in the Xfinity Series.

On Friday, Bell spoiled the reveal that Chase Briscoe is joining him at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2025. Then he ruined Briscoe’s best shot at his first win of the season, holding him off over the final two laps of the overtime finish.

With darkness falling at New Hampshire, Bell cruised past Josh Berry and Briscoe and remained the driver to beat at New Hampshire. He has four wins in the Xfinity Series at Loudon and won a Cup race at the track for a second time.

“I love adverse conditions,” Bell said. “It felt like the normal Loudon groove was really, really slippery.”

Bell was used to the rain — he won last month’s rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 with 151 laps left in the race.

New Hampshire actually needed four extra laps.

Even with the start of the race bumped up a half-hour, New Hampshire was a mess about from the moment the green flag was dropped. The race was marred by wrecks that wiped some of NASCAR’s biggest stars out of contention — all while the rest of the field tried to remain in contention and beat the looming rain that hovered over the entire weekend.

Tyler Reddick, who won Talladega this season, held the lead when the race was red-flagged because of rain with 82 laps left in the scheduled 301-lap race.

Fans fled the grandstands and drivers went back to their motorhomes with seemingly no chance of a return as the gloomy weather worsened. New Hampshire and NASCAR waited out a tornado watch, nearby lightning strikes and a severe thunderstorm warning before it could resume the race after a delay of more than 2 hours — and after crew members swept standing water off pit road — and cars all hit the 1.058-mile track on new tires.

NASCAR let teams use wet-weather tires for the only second time in a points race this season. Teams had a maximum of four sets of wet-weather tires to race on the damp oval track. Teams had to take rain tires during pit stops and their position could not be affected.

They also had no choice of tire.

They were also no match for Bell in his No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Bell stood on his car and raised a broom over his head in honor of the weekend sweep.

Briscoe was second and Berry third. Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher completed the top five.