For the second consecutive week, Daytona International Speedway produced a first-timer winner in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell earned the honor on the track’s road course, taking the lead from Joey Logano with two laps to go and pulling away to a comfortable 2.119-second victory over the 2018 series champion.
Bell, 26, is the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and this is his second season at the premier level, his first driving for the championship Gibbs organization. His work Sunday, however, was more reminiscent of a veteran. There were eight caution flags, eight race leaders and a whole lot of action in the waning laps.
Below is more about Bell’s win, plus the complete results of Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on the Daytona Road Course.
Who won the NASCAR race yesterday?
Christopher Bell pulled around Joey Logano in the chicane just yards before the white flag and easily stretched the lead to earn his first career NASCAR Cup Series trophy.
“This is definitely one of the highlights of my life so far,” a smiling Bell said after climbing off the roof of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, where he flashed the No. 1 sign to the grandstands.
Bell’s pass for the win capped an exciting and suspenseful final dozen laps. Defending race winner and reigning series champion Chase Elliott led a race-best 45 laps but was caught up in heavy traffic after his final pit stop with 15 laps remaining. He won Stage 1 and was running fifth after rallying back to the front with six laps to go when he spun out in the infield — a victim of a chain-reaction collision in the fender-to-fender racing at the time. He ultimately came home 21st, snapping a four-race road racing victory streak.
NASCAR results at Daytona
Behind Bell and Logano, Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.
Kevin Harvick, A.J. Allmendinger, last week’s Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell — also a first-time winner — Ryan Preece and Alex Bowman rounded out the top 10. This is just third time in NASCAR Cup Series history a season has started with two first-time winners, joining the inaugural seasons of 1949 and 1950.
With his maiden win, Bell is now ranked fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings. Hamlin, who won Stage 2, leads the championship by 12 points over Logano heading to the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Below are the complete results from Sunday’s race over the Daytona Road Course.
|12.||Martin Truex Jr.|
|18.||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
Holly Cain writes for the NASCAR Wire Service.