Christopher Bell Secures His First Cup Series Victory


Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons

Kole Scheneman

The NASCAR Cup Series spent its second straight week in Daytona, this time at Daytona’s road course. 

The 70 lap, 253 mile race took place on Sunday at a bright and sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. The starting lineup included last week’s winner, Michael McDowell, and last season’s champion, Chase Elliott, on the front row. Elliott was a heavy favorite, as he had won the past four road course races in a row, and 25% of all stages on road courses.

Trouble started early for Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch. McDowell said that he thought his tire went down before the green flag even fell, and, after overshooting turn number one, he got into the grass and caused damage to his car. Busch got knocked into the grass while battling with Chase Briscoe. Both cars were damaged and had to pit early. 

Elliott had a tremendous start. He jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Elliott led every lap of stage one and led the first 27 laps before finally losing the lead when he pitted under caution with seven laps to go in stage two. Denny Hamlin would go on to win stage two.

Stage three was a much different story. With Elliott now further down in the field, there was a lot more competition for the lead. For a while, Elliott took the lead back, before Christopher Bell took the lead. Kurt Busch would then take the lead but would mess up on a turn and go sliding through the grass, causing him to go from first to twenty-fifth.

“Man, I just crossed over that fine-line of grip and the car,” Busch said. “It’s there, but I was just over-driving. The tires at this track, with the worn-out asphalt in that infield section, is really easy to step over the line. I actually took a deep breath and just said ‘stay cool, stay cool’, and then I pounded that curb, and it shot me straight out.”

Joey Logano would find himself in the lead with eight laps to go. Kurt Busch would find himself in second, where he held off Kyle Larson, who made a risky dive bomb move that wound up with him slamming into the tire barrier.

We were in a great position to win but made a mistake that cost us a chance to win,” Larson said. “I just drove in really far and probably got a little wheel hop. I just carried too much speed and backed it into the tire barrier. I just got overly aggressive.”

Unfortunately for Kurt Busch, Bell was able to find his way around him with five laps to go. Bell would then have to overcome a 2.745 second gap to catch up to and pass Joey Logano with only five laps to go. Bell was able to catch up to Logano with around two laps to go. Logano didn’t have as good of brakes as Bell did, but he would do some aggressive blocking to try to retain the lead, nearly wrecking the two at one point.

Bell was able to successfully make the pass on Logano at the chicane towards the end of the second-to-last lap. He was then able to complete the last lap with ease, giving him his first ever NASCAR Cup Series race win.

“This is definitely one of the highlights of my life, so far,” Bell said. “I’m just so incredibly thankful to be here at Joe Gibbs racing.”

This is Bell’s second year in the Cup Series, but his first year racing for his current team – Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It feels like I’ve prepared my whole life for this moment, to race in the Cup Series,” Bell said. “Last year was a huge learning curve for me, and I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to run in cup, and it definitely prepared me to move to Joe Gibbs Racing.”