For the second week running, Daytona International Speedway crowned a first-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner. Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing driver, received the honor on the track’s racecourse on Sunday. Gibbs took the lead from Joey Logano with two laps remaining and got a comfortable 2.119-second victory over the former series champion. If you were betting on the event, you must have taken the opportunity to log into your Indiana account for a great betting option and you might not have seen the win coming. The 26-year old is the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.
This is Bell’s second season at the premier level. It is also his first as a Gibbs driver. However, his performance on Sunday was reminiscent of an experienced driver. The race had eight caution flags, eight race leaders, and the waning laps were action-packed.
Bell earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series trophy in style. He drew past Logano in the chicane a few yards before the white flag and effortlessly stretched his lead. Another Joe Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin came in third ahead of Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.
The other drivers that made it to the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, AJ Allmendinger, and Michael McDowell, who won the previous week’s Daytona 500. There was also another first-time winner, Ryan Preece, in the top 10. Alex Bowman was also in the mix.
This became the third time in the NASCAR Cup Series history that the season started with two first-time winners. The other years when such a thing happened were 1949 and 1950.
After the race, Bell claimed that this was one of the highlights of his life so far. He acknowledged that he wouldn’t have achieved that without the support of Joe Gibbs and other partners. Bell also suggested that he has trained his whole life for moments like this. He also claimed that last year offered him an excellent learning opportunity and prepared him to make a move to Joe Gibbs Racing. The winner of the day also suggested that staying calm during the race also helped him a lot.
The defending race winner and reigning series champion Chase Elliott was ahead of the pack in a race-best 44 laps. However, after his final pit stop, he got entangled in heavy traffic with 15 laps remaining. He spun out in the infield with six laps to go in his quest to recover lost ground. Chase became a victim of a chain-reaction collision in the tightly contested race at the time.
After his maiden win, Bell now ranks fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series rankings. Hamlin, the winner of stage two, leads the series standings by 12 points ahead of Logano. In the next race, all roads head to the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bell will be hoping to follow up his outstanding achievement with another remarkable performance.
The Cup Series garage did not report any significant issues in the post-race inspection. Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Team Penske Ford of Keselowski had one unsecured lug nut.
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