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Davidson: Bell wins NASCAR Cup race on the Daytona Road Course

Daytona Beach, F:, Feb 21/21 (by John Davidson): Christopher Bell capped a Toyota sweep of all three races in the road race weekend at Daytona. Following Ben Rhodes' victory in the Camping World Truck Series race Friday evening and Ty Gibbs' career-opening win for his grandfather in the Xfinity Series race Saturday, Christopher Bell took the race lead from Joey Logano approaching the white flag and drove on to his first Cup win in 38 starts.

"I don't know, this is definitely one of the highlights of my life so far," Bell said in Victory Lane. "I'm just so incredibly thankful to be here at Joe Gibbs Racing with all of our partners ... . Thank you to Jack Irving and Tyler Gibbs. You guys believed in me since day one. It feels like I've 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 that I got the opportunity to run in Cup. It definitely prepared me to move for Joe Gibbs Racing.

"I don't know, it's unbelievable. Watching last night and seeing Ty (Gibbs) win was such a special moment. I was so proud of Ty. Obviously Joe Gibbs Racing does a great job giving everybody great equipment. I knew that going into this year that I was going to have to perform. Just really, really proud to be here. It's a dream come true."

The race went under caution for weather on laps 57and 58 but the shower ended and the track never really got damp, even where the rain fell. Not that the weather had no effect on the race, as many of the cars that drove or got pushed into the grass either got damaged by digging in or had radiator grill blockages.

Chase Elliott looked like he would dominate the race, leading 44 of the 70 laps of the Daytona road course before falling back to finish 21st. "When you have those late-race cautions like that and you have a mixed bag of who stays and who goes, it's a bit of a gamble either way," said the 2020 season champion. "I made too many mistakes. We went off track and it was just a bad deal."

Fellow Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin finished third, behind Joey Logano in his Penske Ford: "We were third-best to be honest with you. The 20 (Bell) was fast there the second half of the race. Maybe I was fourth-best. I thought we were solid.”

Logano seemed philosophical about the outcome of the race: "I was trying to keep him behind me. We gambled by staying out and then I'd say it paid off overall, but you just hate being so close and one lap away. He started catching me a second a lap and it wasn't like I blew any corners or anything, he was just faster. We just got beat, plain and simple."

The next race is slated for Feb. 28, just down the Florida coast at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

• Click HERE for the race results


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