LOUDON, N.H. — Christopher Bell moved into a tie for the NASCAR Xfinity Series victory lead with five, dominating Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell led 186 of the 200 laps in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota and finished more than four seconds ahead of Cole Custer, the Ford driver who won last weekend at Kentucky Speedway for his fifth victory of the season. Bell has 13 career series victories.

Justin Algaier was third in a Chevrolet. Tyler Reddick, the Xfinity Series points leader entering Saturday, was fourth in a Chevy. Paul Menard was fifth in a Ford.

Harrison Burton was running fifth until the 154th lap, when he got bumped from behind by Menard and spun out and struck the wall. Burton, the son former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, was able to get back on the track and finished 29th. He and Menard had a lengthy conversation at their cars after the race.

CUP SERIES: Alex Bowman will drive teammate Jimmie Johnson’s spare car Sunday after wrecking his backup in the final practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bowman, one of five drivers already in backups for the Cup race, struck a wall coming out of a turn in Saturday’s practice.

Bowman was already in a backup Chevrolet after blowing the drive train in his main car during qualifying Friday.

“We don’t have an issue. We’ve had a run of bad luck – extremely bad luck,” said Jeff Andrews, vice president of competition for Hendrick Motorsports.

Andrews gave an update in the garage as crews worked to switch Johnson’s car into one for Bowman, and Andrews said the car will be fine for Bowman on Sunday. Bowman won his first career Cup race three weeks ago at Chicago.

n Kyle Larson put an end to any speculation about him and his ride for next season.

Larson said he’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing, which has him under contract through next year.

“I like being at Chip’s place. He’s an amazing boss and gave me my shot. I’m very grateful for everything he’s done,” said Larson, who will be starting 15th on Sunday.

Larson said he was a little caught off guard to hear speculation that he wouldn’t be back with Ganassi next year.

“It’s not frustrating to me because as long as I know what’s going on, I know what the truth is,” Larson said.

n Ryan Blaney’s Ford had the fastest lap in Saturday’s final practice session, averaging 133.572 mph. Toyota drivers had the next two fastest times with Denny Hamlin – in his backup – averaging 133.226 mph and Kyle Busch at 132.739 mph.

Brad Keselowski, who clinched the pole in qualifying Friday, was sixth fastest at 132.591 mph. Keselowski will be starting from the pole for the first time in nearly two years.


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