Kyle Larson is the first driver to secure a spot in the Championship 4 after winning at Phoenix Raceway. He achieved this feat after a dominant run and a late battle with Christopher Bell.

The intensity increased with each lap of the final stage, especially with fewer than 10 to go in the race. Bell began turning in faster lap times than Larson, which helped him erase a deficit of more than two seconds.

Bell pulled within one second of the lead with two laps remaining and then he put himself right behind Larson as they were coming to the checkered flag. A big block by Larson stopped one of Bell’s runs. Larson then won the drag race to the checkered flag.

“Thankfully, Christopher always races extremely clean,” Larson told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider after climbing from his race-winning car. “It could have got crazier than it did coming to the start-finish line. Thank you to him for racing with respect there.”

The win led to a celebration by the members of the No. 5 team. A close loss led to disappointment in the Joe Gibbs Racing camp.

Bell walked away with the second-most stage points earned on the day with 17. This moved him to only two points below the Championship 4 cutline heading to Homestead next week. He just didn’t accomplish his ultimate goal.

“I feel like that was my moment to make the Final Four and didn’t quite capture it,” Bell said.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Homestead-Miami next Sunday.


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