Bell wins his first NASCAR Cup Series race.
The time finally came for the main race of the weekend – the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona road course. The green flag was out at the World Center of Racing and the race got underway. It did not start in a good way for Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch – both damaged their cars on the opening lap. The caution was also deployed.
The favourite Chase Elliott was in the lead of the race at the restart. The reigning champion built a comfortable gap to his opponents. Chase Briscoe came out with the worst outcome after the last chicane pile-up. There were a lot of lock-ups and that hurt the tyres. Brad Keselowski blew his tyre after locking up at the final chicane. Another caution was out.
The leaders went to the pits and Christopher Bell took the green flag at the restart. However, Elliott got to the first place eventually. In fact, the no.9 Hendrick Motorsports car driver won the opening stage.
The second stage started and Chase Elliott remained in the lead, ahead of Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. AJ Allmendinger kept charging through the field in his Cup Series return – he got to the top 5. Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. had an interesting battle for the 3rd, in which the 2017 Cup Series champion got ahead. He also passed his teammate Hamlin for the 2nd. Brad Keselowski missed a chicane again. Ross Chastain hit the wall quite hard in the NASCAR turn 1, which forced a caution. The no.42 Chip Ganassi Racing driver retired from the race.
The drivers pitted and Denny Hamlin left the pit road first. AJ Allmendinger led the field to the restart and did that successfully. Hamlin made a pass for the lead later. The no.11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver won stage 2. Kurt Busch was just inches ahead of Joey Logano to finish second.
The no.1 car driver had an impressive start to the final stage as he got to the lead. However, he got loose a bit later and went into the grass – there was no caution. Christopher Bell inherited the lead, but was passed by Chase Elliott. Misfortune continued for Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch as they had a contact, which sent the Team Penske driver spinning. Aric Almirola also had a spin. With less than 20 laps to go, the cars started visiting the pit road – Elliott kept leading after the cycle. The rain came out on track and the caution was out because of weather.
Chase Elliott had a huge save after going off the track at the restart. At the same time Tyler Reddick went to the grass too and then his car got on fire. Another caution was out. The race got underway once again with 10 laps to go but had to be stopped again after the turn 1 wreck and Corey LaJoie hit the wall.
Joey Logano and Kurt Busch took the green flag at the restart. Logano stayed ahead. Kyle Larson got to the top 3, but went sideways and hit the wall while trying to pass Busch for the second. His brother Kyle hit the wall at the front straight after a close battle. The chances to win the race vanished for Chase Elliott after having a contact with Brad Keselowski.
Christopher Bell got very close to Joey Logano in the final laps. In the end, the no.20 car driver made the move at the final chicane. That overtake was decisive as Bell won the race in his second Cup Series start with Joe Gibbs Racing. Joey Logano finished second and Denny Hamlin was third. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski completed the top 5.
The top 20 of the race:
|1||#20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2||#22||Joey Logano||Team Penske|
|3||#11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|4||#1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|5||#2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske|
|6||#4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|7||#16||AJ Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing|
|8||#34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports|
|9||#37||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|10||#48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports|
|11||#17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing|
|12||#19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|13||#41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|14||#43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Mototrsports|
|15||#12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske|
|16||#99||Daniel Suarez||Trackhouse Racing|
|17||#10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|18||#47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|19||#96||Ty Dillon||Gaunt Brothers Racing|
|20||#6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing|