Christopher Bell passed Joey Logano for the lead in the frontstretch chicane coming to the white flag and went on to win Sunday’s Cup race on the Daytona road course to score his first series victory.
It marks the second week in a row that a driver has won his first Cup race. Bell’s win came a week after Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500. This is only the third time in series history that the first two races of the season were won by first-time winners. That happened in 1949 and 1950.
Bell’s victory also came a week after he triggered a multi-car crash early in the Daytona 500. It also marked the second week in a row Logano saw his hopes to win a race end in the final moments. Bell took advantage of fresher tires Sunday to get by Logano, who finished second.
“This is definitely one of the highlights of my life so far,” Bell told FS1.
Bell’s win for Joe Gibbs Racing came a day after the organization won the Xfinity race with Ty Gibbs, who scored his first series win.
Chase Elliott saw his bid for a fifth consecutive road course win end with five laps to go when he attempted to pass Brad Keselowski in Turn 6 on the infield portion of the course. The field got bunched. Chase Briscoe appeared to get into the back of Denny Hamlin and there was contact with Elliott, who spun around. He finished 21st.
McDowell had a tire go down before the start and overshot Turn 1 when he couldn’t turn the car from his front row starting spot. Further behind McDowell, Kyle Busch, who won last week’s Busch Clash on this course, was forced into the grass just after Turn 1 by Chase Briscoe and suffered right front damage in the grass.
McDowell went on to finish eighth. Busch had further issues in the race and placed 35th.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Elliott
STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Brad Keselowski overcame tire issues early and a spin to bounce back and finish fifth. … AJ Allmendinger overcame a pit road speeding penalty to finish seventh. … Ryan Preece finished ninth, giving him back-to-back top 10s to open the season.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: A week after finishing seventh in the Daytona 500 for Chip Ganassi Racing, Ross Chastain crashed and finished 39th Sunday. … Kyle Busch recovered from right front damage on the first lap to climb back into the top five but other issues led him to falling back and finishing 35th.
NEXT: The series races at 3:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.