Christopher Bell Picks Up First Victory in Wild Daytona Road Course Race


Christopher Bell picked up his first career victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 from the Daytona International Speedway Road Course on Sunday afternoon.

Bell erased Joey Logano’s three-second lead in the closing laps and was able to make the winning pass in the chicane coming to the white flag.  Bell pulled away over the final lap, and he picked up his first victory in just his second start with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Bell pitted for tires under one of the final cautions, and he said that’s what made the difference in the race against Logano.

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“Whenever we pitted and I came out, I liked where I lined up,” Bell said.  “Honestly didn’t think I was going to get there.  [Logano] really struggled coming out of Turn 6 one time and it allowed me to close the gap.”

Bell’s first victory followed Michael McDowell’s first victory in last weekend’s Daytona 500.  It is just the third time in NASCAR history that two first-time winners opened up the season, and the first since 1950.

Bell said this victory was at the end of a very long road to NASCAR’s top series.

“I’ve prepared my whole life to race in the Cup Series,” Bell said.  “I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to run in Cup.  This is definitely one of the highlights of my life so far.”

Logano said he had too many laps to run on old tires to make their strategy work.

“One more caution lap would have been enough to at least have a door-to-door finish across the line,” Logano said.  “[Bell’s] the one that got through with tires.  It’s hard when he’s catching you a second a lap.”

Unofficial results:

  1. Christopher Bell
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. AJ Allmendinger
  8. Michael McDowell
  9. Ryan Preece
  10. Alex Bowman
  11. Chris Buescher
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Cole Custer
  14. Erik Jones
  15. Ryan Blaney
  16. Daniel Suarez
  17. Aric Almirola
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  19. Ty Dillon
  20. Ryan Newman
  21. Chase Elliott
  22. Anthony Alfredo
  23. James Davison
  24. Justin Haley
  25. Cody Ware
  26. Bubba Wallace
  27. Garrett Smithley
  28. Scott Heckert
  29. Timmy Hill
  30. Kyle Larson
  31. Corey LaJoie
  32. Chase Briscoe
  33. William Byron
  34. Austin Dillon
  35. Kyle Busch
  36. Josh Bilicki
  37. Matt DiBenedetto
  38. Tyler Reddick
  39. Ross Chastain
  40. Quin Houff