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Shriners Children's 500: Christopher Bell, Toyota Dominate The Day At Phoenix

Christopher Bell celebrates in Victory Lane at Phoenix.
Toyota dominance was the headline of the day in the Valley of The Sun. (Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images)

AVONDALE, Ariz. - On a day dominated by Toyota drivers, Christopher Bell's No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota found Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series, winning the Shriner's Children 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Bell, who has arguably been Toyota's best driver in the Next Gen era, won Stage 2 and led 50 laps en route to his seventh career Cup Series victory.

"Man, this one feels really good," Bell said. "Just a credit to Adam, man. Adam, my engineers, my crew chief, all the mechanics on this thing. You don’t get cars like that very often, as you know. Just super, super proud. Proud to be on this 20 car. This Rheem Camry was amazing today. I feel like we have capability of running races like this a lot. Hopefully, this is the first of many this year."

Chris Buescher's No. 17 RFK Racing Ford quietly finished second after getting by the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Ty Gibbs late in the race. Buescher, who won three races in 2023, has had a slower start to 2024, but a finish like this early in the season is certainly a confidence booster.

"Certainly a great finish for our Ford Mustang, really proud of everybody," Buescher said. "This is a good try, we had a rough go last week. This was good to get everybody back to prove that we’re in this together and we’re going to win one of these things as a team. That was almost a win today.

"We were close in a way, but like we were just talking, I couldn’t even see the 20," Buescher said. "That was going to be a tough one to battle for a win. But really impressed with everybody today, did a heck of a job, worked hard to get back up where we needed to be at the end. Was able to save just enough fuel to go 100% at the end. Got to second. Really proud with that."

Meanwhile, Gibbs spent most of his day up front and managed to finish a career-best third after qualifying on the front row, leading the first 57 laps of the race.

"It was a good day for our Monster Energy Toyota Camry, we just need a little bit more," Gibbs said. "We got in a hole there a little bit on pit road and got back through it. It was a good day and a really good recovery.

"I think everybody at JGR and Toyota with this new car, they just did a great job. We’re happy with it, but we need to get a little bit better to go out here and hopefully go and win. It’s definitely a positive from the last two Phoenix races for me.”

Results from the 2024 Shriners Children's 500 from Phoenix Raceway are listed below:

2024 Shriners Children's 500 Results.

Other Race Facts

For the first time in NASCAR history, Toyota had not only four, but five drivers lead 50 or more laps in the same race:

  • Denny Hamlin (68 laps led, polesitter)

  • Tyler Reddick (68 laps led, Stage 1 winner)

  • Ty Gibbs (57 laps led)

  • Martin Truex Jr. (55 laps led)

  • Christopher Bell (50 laps led, race winner)

This comes as a surprise to many because Toyota's worst track in the Next Gen era has been Phoenix. The manufacturer only led 15 of 1,352 laps at the 1-mile Arizona track before Sunday's 312-lap race (1.2%). In this race, Toyota led 298 of 312 laps (96%).

According to Avery Hage, the 2024 Shriner's Children 500 is only the third time in history that Chevrolet did not lead a single lap at Phoenix (1992, 2001).

Bell has seven career Cup Series victories at seven different tracks.

  1. Daytona Road Course

  2. New Hampshire Motor Speedway

  3. Charlotte ROVAL

  4. Martinsville Speedway

  5. Bristol Dirt

  6. Homestead-Miami Speedway

  7. Phoenix Raceway

Todd Gilliland was the only non-Toyota to lead at Phoenix. His 14 laps led added to Front Row Motorsports' total for the 2024 season to 125, which is the most the organization has ever led in a Cup Series season, and this was just the fourth race of the 2024.

According to statistician Trey Ryan, Ryan Blaney's top-five finish is Team Penske's 11th straight race at Phoenix with at least one car in the top five. This dates back to the Fall of 2018.

Blaney is also the only Championship 4 driver from last season who is yet to visit Victory Lane in 2024 (Byron: Daytona, Larson: Las Vegas, Bell: Phoenix). However, Blaney was just 0.003 seconds from winning at Atlanta after a three-wide photo finish.

GRID Ranking

The 2024 GRID Ranking will be the eighth year of the premier motorsport ranking in the world, and it will be released during the week of April 7.

Before the official ranking releases on the first Sunday of April, drivers in the seven racing series that participate in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) earn GRID Ratings, which help determine their initial seeding when the GRID Ranking releases.

For NASCAR, Ryan Blaney's third top-five finish of the season has allowed him to take the lead in the NASCAR GRID Rating.

Despite winning the 2023 Cup Series title, Blaney did not win last year's GRID Rating as William Byron's six wins helped the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet earn this honor.

The next race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule will take place at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 17. Coverage of the Food City 500 will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.


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