Feb. 22 (UPI) — Christopher Bell passed Joey Logano with two laps remaining and held onto the lead to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona’s road course.
Bell led for five laps and won the race by 2.119 seconds Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. The win was Bell’s first victory in 38 Cup Series appearances.
“All race long I kind of felt like I was trying to do my best job, not screw up, hit my marks and not overdrive the corners,” Bell told reporters on a post-race Zoom video conference.
“Whenever I got by the 22 [Logano] coming to the white flag, I knew I was faster than him. I ran him down from a while back. All I had to do was get a couple good corners and get away. The last thing I wanted was coming down to the checkered flag with him on my bumper.”
Michael McDowell, who won last weekend’s Daytona 500, finished eighth. Defending champion Chase Elliott led a race-high 44 laps, but lost control of his car and spun out late to finish 21st.
Elliott led the first 12 laps of the race. Bell held the lead for lap 13, but Elliott retook the lead for laps 14 to 28.
Allmendinger, Hamlin, Suarez, Busch and Bell each held the lead from laps 29 to 40. Elliott retook the lead on lap 41, but gave it back to Logano on lap 58. Busch raced into the top spot on lap 62.
Logano then led the race from lap 63 to 68. Bell then drove his No. 20 Toyota past the right rear fender of Logano’s No. 22 Ford for the final lead change of the night.
“Getting passed coming to the white flag stings a lot,” Logano told reporters on a post-race Zoom video conference.
“Congratulations to Christopher, obviously, his first win. That one is very special. The way he did it was very impressive. Just stings a little bit for me at the moment if I’m being honest.”
Hamlin now leads the Cup Series standings. He also finished in the Top 5 in the Daytona 500. Logano, Kevin Harvick, Bell and Elliott also are in the Top 5 of the Cup Series standings.
Cup Series drivers return for the third event of the season — the Dixie Vodka 400 — at 3:30 p.m. EST Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.