Bell and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team struggled for much of the race and at one point he was in danger of falling a lap down.
However, a string of cautions in the final 60 of 267 laps knocked several playoff contenders out of the race and put Bell back in the hunt for the win.
He took the lead for the first time on a restart on Lap 230, lost it and then reclaimed it from William Byron with 15 to go. Bell then held off a late charge from Ryan Blaney and edged him by 1.651 seconds to earn his second win of the 2023 season and first in the playoffs.
The victory puts Bell in the Championship 4 at Phoenix in two weeks, where he will join Kyle Larson to battle for this season’s series title.
“I’ve got the best team behind me. That race was a whirlwind,” Bell said. “I was ready to throw the towel in there in the second stage. I got frustrated on the radio.
“Adam (Stevens, crew chief) kept after it. The guys back at the shop were working over the adjustments and gave me what I needed. Whenever we got some clean air, this thing was really good.
“Thank you, everyone, that’s supported me. This is better than a dream come true.”
Tyler Reddick ended up third, Byron fourth and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top five.
Completing the top-10 were Bubba Wallace, Ty Gibbs, Joey Logano – who started the race from the rear of the field in a backup car, Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon.
With one race remaining to qualify for the Championship 4, the four drivers lowest in points without a win and in danger of playoff elimination are Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Tyler Reddick, who is 10 points behind the cutoff line.
Kyle Larson took the Stage 1 win under caution when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun down the backstretch with three of 80 laps remaining. Brad Keselowski was second, Blaney third, Byron fourth and Truex completed the top five.
Blaney ran down Larson and passed him with three of 85 laps to go and held off Byron by 1.185 seconds to claim the Stage 2 win. Larson ended up third, Hamlin fourth and Keselowski rounded out the top five.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all elected to pit with Blaney first off pit road. The race returned to green with 95 laps remaining and Blaney was followed by Byron and Keselowski.
Over the next three laps, Byron and Blaney swapped the lead in a wild side-by-side battle.
With just under 60 laps left, Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott kicked off the final round of green flag pit stops to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the end of the race.
As Blaney and Larson both hit pit road to make their stop on lap 213, Larson ran up on a slowing Blaney at pit road entrance, veered to the right to avoid hitting him and instead slammed into the sand barrels, which brought out a caution.
Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet received extensive damage to the front of his car and was forced to retire to the garage. NASCAR red flagged the race for nearly 11 minutes to clear pit road of the debris.
Once the race returned to caution, the lead-lap cars pit and Blaney – who completed his stop before the red flag – stayed out and inherited the lead. Hamlin was the first off pit road. The race resumed with 46 laps remaining.
A four-car wreck – involving Keselowski, J.J. Yeley, John Hunter Nemechek and Ross Chastain – on the backstretch on the restart placed the race back under caution. Hamlin led the way with 38 laps to go.
Bell grabbed the lead in Turn 4 on the restart as Blaney and Hamlin made contact and drifted up the track.
Five laps later, Hamlin suddenly drifted up the track himself in Turn 2 and slammed the wall which knocked the playoff contender out of the race.
While under the caution, Hamlin’s JGR teammate and fellow playoff driver, Truex, said his No. 19 Toyota was developing engine problems and he, too, was forced to retire from the race.
The lead-lap cars all pit with Byron first off pit road and he led the way on the restart with 25 laps left.
Bell caught Byron with 25 laps to go and dove to his inside off Turn 4 to reclaim the lead.
Blaney moved back into second with six laps to go and set his sights on Bell to challenge for the lead.