For the second consecutive week, Daytona International Speedway crowned a first-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell earned the honor Sunday on the track’s road course, taking the lead from Joey Logano with two laps to go and pulling away to a comfortable 2.119-second victory over the former series champion.
Bell, 26, is the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and this is his second season at the premier level — his first driving for the championship Gibbs organization. His work Sunday, however, was more reminiscent of a veteran. There were eight caution flags, eight race leaders and a whole lot of action in the waning laps.
“This is definitely 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 definitely prepared me to move to Joe Gibbs Racing.”
“The Daytona Road Course took braking to a whole new level in the NASCAR Cup Series. Our Alcon / Pro-System brakes lasted all day and were strong enough at the end to get us the win.” – Jeff Eicher, Head of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brake Department
The road course at Daytona provided a new set of challenges for teams on the weekend. High downforce configurations on the cars, coupled with even more horsepower than last year, meant massive energy inputs into the braking system and a race distance of some 70 laps meant wear rates and brake performance were always going to be an issue. A lack of testing prior to the race, as is the norm during the pandemic, dictated that the cream was always going to rise to the top - and we did just that. Years of continuous development working with our teams paid dividends as JGR driver Christopher Bell passed a struggling Joey Logano right at the end of the race. We couldn't be more pleased for the 26 year old star and the team at Joe Gibbs Racing, a massive congratulations from us all at Alcon and Pro-System.