LOUDON, N.H. – There’s plenty on the line in Saturday’s SciAps 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS).

Some drivers are looking to pile on the playoff points as they look to solidify their drive for a season title. Others are trying to earn that elusive first win of the season to make sure they don’t miss out on the season-ending drive for the championship.

And Christopher Bell is simply trying to keep his NXS average finish at New Hampshire as a perfect 1.0.

Bell has won all three of his NXS starts at “The Magic Mile” (2018, 2019, 2021). This year, he’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I think Bell being in the 20 is going to be very hard to beat,” said John Hunter Nemechek, last year’s New Hampshire NXS champion who is competing in the USA TODAY 301 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race on Sunday. “He is really good there in any series. I think he is undefeated there in the Xfinity Series, so hopefully he and our 20 team from Joe Gibbs Racing on the Xfinity side will be able to go and run really well.

“I expect all the JGR cars to be really fast. You also can’t count out Cole Custer or Justin Allgaier either. There’s some really heavy hitters when you go to short tracks and New Hampshire in general, but I’d have to go with C. Bell for the win.”

Bell and Alex Bowman are two NCS stars who will be behind the wheel in the SciAps 200. Also pulling double duty is three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) champion Justin Bonsignore, who will drive the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing before competing in the Mohegan Sun 100 Saturday evening.

Another Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Chandler Smith, is returning to NHMS after finishing second behind Nemechek last summer. Now driving the No. 81 Toyota, Smith already has two NXS victories this season and sits one point behind Cole Custer, the defending series champion, in the regular-season point standings. Custer is one of the drivers still looking to notch his first 2024 win on Saturday.

“Just knowing that I have a car capable every single weekend to go out and win – I didn’t really have that last year – so it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders,” said Smith, who has wins this year at Phoenix and Richmond. “New Hampshire is flat – it’s a short track in my opinion – and those are tracks that I definitely excel at. It’s flat, very technical, low grip. Those are tracks that I excel at.”

While Nemechek won’t be racing until Sunday, memories of “The Magic Mile” run deep for himself and his father, Joe, who scored his first career NCS win in the Granite State in 1999.

“New Hampshire has a special place for our family with my dad getting his first Cup Series win there 25 years ago,” said Nemechek, who led 137 of 206 laps in last year’s NXS victory. “I was there for that win, but I don’t remember it. I’ve seen pictures of it. So that’s pretty cool to be able to win there and dominate like we did last year.”

For a NASCAR weekend schedule, visit NHMS.com/Events/NASCAR-Cup-Series/Schedule/.


Log on to NHMS.com for tickets and more information on the weekend’s lineup of action-packed racing. Tickets for SIG SAUER Academy Dirt Duels start at just $25 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Tickets for Doubleheader Saturday, featuring the SciAps 200 NXS race and the Mohegan Sun 100 NWMT race, start at just $49 for adults while kids 12 and under are free. Sunday’s USA TODAY 301 NASCAR Cup Series race tickets start at just $64 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Further details can be found on the NHMS website or by calling 833-4LOUDON.

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