Whoops! Christopher Bell spills the tea and spoils the surprise that Chase Briscoe is headed to JGR

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Christopher Bell knew the instant he spilled the tea — without even the courtesy of a spoiler alert — that he would catch grief for prematurely disclosing Chase Briscoe was headed to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2025.

Bell’s goof was the talk of NASCAR — well, for everyone but Briscoe.

The rumor mill turned a bit more concrete when Bell was asked an innocuous question this week about a potential leadership shift at JGR in the wake of Martin Truex Jr.’s retirement at the end of the season.

“Whenever Chase comes into the car ... ”

Uh oh.

Bell stopped instantly and smiled, a realization swept over him there was no going back on this blunder. Briscoe, in his final year with Stewart-Haas Racing, would in fact inherit the No. 19 Toyota next season at JGR.

So as the jokes flew on social media — Kyle Larson wished NASCAR’s most popular driver Chase Elliott the best in his new job — the news ground to a halt at the dirt track where Briscoe moonlights.

“Christopher texted me and was like, man I messed up so bad,” Briscoe said Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I was like, what happened? What do you mean? He says, go look at Twitter. I ran the sprint car race last night and had zero signal. Couldn’t get a single text to go in, out. Couldn’t receive any texts. So I couldn’t get anything to load. Literally the last text I got was just Christopher saying, I messed up, go look at Twitter.”

The cliffhanger lingered for hours while the 29-year-old Briscoe raced and finished second. Only when he left the track was Briscoe able to watch the video of Bell’s racing reveal.

Briscoe, who has one career Cup win and has spent all four seasons with SHR, hoped for an official announcement on his new job in the next week or two.

“Nothing’s official until it’s official,” Briscoe said.

Stewart-Haas Racing, a two-time NASCAR championship team with 69 Cup Series victories since its 2009 formation, announced last month it would close its organization at the end of this season. SHR this year fields Cup cars for Briscoe, Josh Berry, Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece, leading to a suddenly uncertain future for the drivers. Briscoe is 17th in the points standings in the No. 14 Ford.

JGR also fields cars for Denny Hamlin and Ty Gibbs.

Briscoe said, no hard feelings, honest.

“I felt like everyone kind of knows what’s going on,” he said. “I wasn’t really mad. It was kind of funny, I thought.”

Well, not everyone found the humor in the slip of the tongue.

“Nobody let me live it down,” Bell said. “Everyone I see tells me how stupid I am. I tried to get away, get offline.”

Bell, who won the Xfinity Series race Saturday at New Hampshire, was embarrassed by his gaffe and said he tried to “hibernate” and stay off social media most of Friday and Saturday. Bell said he reached out to Joe Gibbs and other race team officials to apologize for ruining the announcement.

“The driver announcement is a really big deal and I completely fudged it up,” Bell said. “I've never in my life screwed up that bad and it was a huge, huge mistake. I'm very glad they took it easy on me.”


Chase Elliott starts on the pole after rain washed out Saturday’s qualifying session.

Ryan Blaney, last week’s winner in the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway, starts second. William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman complete the top five.

Elliott, Byron and Bowman give Hendrick Motorsports three spots in the first three rows. Elliott, who has one win this season, has one runner-up finish but has never won at New Hampshire.

“We’d rather have an actual pole, for sure,” Elliott said. “But you know, circumstances being what they are, fortunately our team has been performing at a really solid level over the past couple of months. The reality of it is that it put us in a position to have a good starting spot for a rainout situation.”

With more rain in the forecast Sunday — a year after weather pushed the race to Monday — NASCAR moved up green flag time for the Cup race to 2:06 p.m.

Truex’s Future

Truex already had job offers days after he announced he would retire from full-time racing at the end of the season. The 2017 NASCAR champion, Truex said he’s discussed a potential Daytona 500 ride and maybe other one-offs with Denny Hamlin, his teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin, along with Michael Jordan, own 23XI Racing and could field a car for Truex in 2025.

“I stand firm in offering him that opportunity,” Hamlin said. “I certainly think it could be fun for both parties.”

Truex said the chance to drive for Hamlin would “be awesome.”

Bubba in the White House

Could President Bubba be in the cards?

Bubba Wallace tried his best to look presidential as he stood and smiled behind the lectern this week at the White House. He was invited by one of his sponsors to speak on its initiative to make space a place for everyone.

As for the real deal, Wallace said, forget it. Politics isn’t in his future.

“Hell no,” Wallace said. “I'm already in enough headlines.”

Wallace said he ate “the best French toast I ever had” and was thrilled he met singer John Legend and his oldest son at the event.

“He was really nice. I walked up to him with his kid and (Legend) said I was the best race car driver in the world,” Wallace said. "I was like, have you seen ‘Cars 3?’

Gets late early

With darkness falling at New Hampshire, Aric Almirola won a race in 2021 that was called eight laps shy of its scheduled conclusion. NASCAR made a change this season that it would set a predetermined time a race would end if it couldn't be concluded at its scheduled distance, a rule that could come into play Sunday if weather disrupts a significant part of the race.

“If you know, hey, this race is going to end at 8:30, whatever it is, OK, we know that and we can plan the strategy off of that,” Team Penske driver Joey Logano said. “I think having a ballpark idea, if there’s weather in the area and it seems like we’re going to be pushed late, what that’s going to look like, I think is a great idea.”

He said it

“I’ve always wanted to hold the lobster ever since I was a kid. So hopefully we can keep adding to our entrees. We had corn last week and lobster this week. Trying to add a full plate of dinner.” — Blaney, on trying to follow his Iowa win with one at New Hampshire, where the winner is awarded a lobster.

Odds and Ends

Bell is the BETMGM favorite to win Sunday.


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