For the second straight week we saw a first time winner at Daytona.
Christopher Bell joined the ranks of being a first time Cup winner with his hard fought win at the Daytona Road Course. Bell stayed in the hunt and chased down Joey Logano to secure his first Cup win after Michael McDowell got his first Cup win last week.
Bell started 12th and ran pretty well throughout in race that saw fan-favorite Chase Elliott win Stage 1 and lead most of the first part of the race. Stage 2 was won by Denny Hamlin who then went on to lead much of the latter stage after a problem on pit road left Elliott mired him in traffic.
PLENTY OF DRAMA
There was plenty of drama throughout the race as many drivers had issues with brakes or other drivers. Daytona 500 winner McDowell had issues at the beginning of the race, got behind and still managed to finish 8th. the Kurt Busch was in and out of the grass more than once yet managed to finish 4th. Martin Truex, Jr. started to move through the field and look like her might have something but an untimely wheel hop issue spun him out and left him to finish 12th. Chase Elliott was dominant early on but bad pit stop put him back in the pack where a battle with Brad Keselowksi caused him to end up getting spun out by Denny Hamlin as he attempted to get back to the front.
Logano and Hamlin battled for the lead in the later stages of the race and wore each other out. Logano got out to a seemingly insurmountable with second place Kurt Busch holding up the rest of the field. Once Bell and Hamlin got past Busch, the race was on. Bell had managed his tires and brakes well and was faster than Logano. Logano tried to out brake Bell in the turns but had little pad to work with. His rotors were glowing bright red and sparks were flying out from under his car as Bell scooted past and drove away to the victory.
Other highlights from the race saw AJ Allmendinger leading two laps after starting 34th. AJ finished 7th, giving a boost to his chances of running more Cup races this season while he competes in the Xfinity Series.
Ryan Preece managed a 9th place finish after starting 6th. Alex Bowman rounded out the Top 10. Other notables were Chris Buescher in 11th , Cole Custer in 13th and Daniel Suarez in 16th.
On the downside, Ryan Blaney only managed a 15th place finish, Elliott 21st after his spin, Bubba Wallace stumbled to a 26th place finish, Kyle Larson 30th, Austin Dillon fell back to 34th and Kyle Busch a disappointing 37th after an early ride in the grass.
THIS COMING WEEKEND
The teams stay in Florida this week with a trip to Homestead. This should be a great race for Joe Gibbs’ Toyotas as Busch and Hamlin each have recent wins there. Truex has two runner up finishes and Bell got a Top 10 in his only start. But Joey Logano also runs well there and he has been running better than Busch when there is no practice. This could boil down to a Logano vs Hamlin battle for the win.
Enjoy the race and keep the shiny side up!
Read more about the latest racing from Daytona here.
Check out NASCAR’s website here, too.