Christopher Bell wins O’Reilly on Daytona infield road course

Feb 21, 2021; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell (20) celebrates winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Bell passed Joey Logano for the lead with two laps to go Sunday and then drove away for the victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 NASCAR Cup Series race on the infield road course at Daytona International Speedway.

The victory for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bell, who was on newer tires than Logano at the end, was his first in the Cup Series.

Logano, whose team made a decision to not pit for tires with 14 laps to go, finished second — 2.1 seconds behind.

Denny Hamlin, Bell’s teammate, was third.

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Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth and Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, was fifth.

Chase Elliott appeared to be cruising to a fifth-straight road win as he led the first 28 laps conducted under green. But on a stop on Lap 28, trouble in the pits knocked him back to 14th on the restart.

But back up through the field he came and with 30 laps to go in the 70-lap event, Elliott passed Bell and he had the lead again. Elliott led a race-best 45 laps, but more trouble struck with seven laps to go, when — as he was running fifth — he spun out, eventually finished in 21st place.

Michael McDowell, the winner of last week’s Daytona 500 and as a result, starting on the front row Sunday, blew a tire which caused him to overshoot heading into Turn 1 on the first lap and was forced to the pits.

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Two-time series champion Kyle Busch also had first-lap problems as his car suffered damage after Chase Briscoe forced him off the track. Busch, who had won the Busch Clash on the road course on Feb. 9, pitted and dropped to the rear of the field. Yet, even in a race car which had a serious amount of sheet metal cut off during the stop, Busch worked his way forward. He finished 35th after hitting the wall with seven to go.

–Field Level Media