By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Rheem-sponsored driver Christopher Bell won his first NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. He joins Michael McDowell, who have won the first two events of the season.
Both men won their first career Cup Series event at Daytona. McDowell won the historic Daytona 500.
On Sunday, Bell won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona International Speedway Road Course in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Oklahoma native won in his second race with Joe Gibbs Racing. He replaced Erik Jones, who was let go back in August 2020.
“This is one of the highlights of my life so far,” a smiling Bell said after climbing off the roof of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, where he flashed the No. 1 sign to the grandstands. “Just so incredibly thankful to be here with Joe Gibbs Racing and all our partners. This feels like I prepared my whole life for this moment to race in the Cup Series. Last year was a huge learning curve for me, and I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to run in Cup and it prepared me to move to Joe Gibbs Racing.”
Bell led the final two laps of the race. He took the lead from Joey Logano before losing the lead on lap 69.
It’s been a bad week for Logano, who was leading the Daytona 500 until Turn 3 on the final lap. McDowell tapped Brad Keselowski who then tapped Logano before the Penske teammates crashed.
Logano finished second in his Shell/Pennzoil entry for Team Penske. FedEx Express driver Denny Hamlin was the third-place finisher.
“I just kept doing what I was doing all day long,” Bell said of the career milestone. “Whenever we took the green flag, I felt like I was patient. Kyle (Busch) tried to go three-wide around me at the start. I knew that I was OK. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) kept asking what I needed in the car and I didn’t need anything. Just took my time to get going, get up to speed, and proud to be here.”
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