A look at the winners and losers from this past weekend at the Daytona road course:
NASCAR fans — At least those who like surprises. Who had Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell winning the first two races of the season? The last time the Cup season opened with two first-time winners was 1950.
Christopher Bell — Not known as a road racer (even with a 2019 Xfinity win at Road America), Bell showed his mettle in chasing down Joey Logano and getting by the former Cup champ to win on Daytona’s road course.
Ty Gibbs — He won Saturday’s Xfinity race in his first series start. “Dreams come true,” he said.
Denny Hamlin — Starts the Cup season with consecutive top-five finishes.
Michael McDowell — Overcome early problems to finish eighth on Sunday. Daytona 500 winner starts the year with two top 10s. He had four top 10s last season.
Ryan Preece — Scored back-to-back top 10s to begin the season after his ninth-place finish Sunday.
AJ Allmendinger — Gives Kaulig Racing a top 10 with a seventh-place finish in the Cup race after starting 34th.
Matt DiBenedetto — Rough start to the season for the Wood Brothers Racing driver. He was collected in the early crash in the Daytona 500 and finished 33rd. He placed 37th on the Daytona road course after a cut right rear tire ripped off the quarter panel of his car and he later experienced brake problems. He is 37th in the season standings with five points after two races.
Chase Elliott — He entered pit road on Lap 57 as the leader but lost three spots with a 14.8-second stop. With the top seven cars not pitting, Elliott restarted 11th. On the first lap of the restart he got forced into the grass and lost half a dozen spots and was never a factor after that, stuck in traffic. He led the most laps but finished 21st.
Kyle Busch — Was forced off track on the opening lap and damaged his right front. Came back to climb into the top five only to see problems in the final laps that led to a 35th-place finish. He hit the wall and was penalized for speeding on pit road in those final laps.