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NASCAR Cup Series Recap: Christopher Bell Wins O’Reilly Auto Parts 253

The drivers of the NASCAR Cup Series were in action at Daytona International Speedway for the second week in a row. This time, they raced on the famed Daytona Road Course. With the field being set by NASCAR’s starting grid formula Chase Elliott and Michael McDowell would lead the field to green. Elliott was a huge favorite to win the race, but it would be young Christopher Bell scoring a victory on the Daytona Road Course.

Christopher Bell NASCAR Cup Series
Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Christopher Bell Wins Daytona Road Course Race

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 | Stage 1

The drivers took the green and right off the bat, Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell missed the turn and fell to the back half of the field. That same lap saw Kyle Busch hit the grass and need to pit for repairs. The rest of the stage would be pretty tame aside from the occasional misses of the bus stop or chicane. Brad Keselowski was seemingly responsible for most of these. Chase Elliott triumphed in stage one.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 | Stage 2

Off his win in Stage 1, Chase Elliott once again led the field to the green flag. Not long after, Ross Chastain got shoved into the wall by Ryan Blaney. The damage caused Chastain to be the second driver to bow out of the race. Like the first stage, not much else happened after that. Denny Hamlin would go on to claim his third stage win of the year.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 | Final Stage

Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez made the decision not to pit during the stage caution and lead the field back to the green. Unfortunately, this strategy didn’t pan out as Kurt Busch quickly passed him by, followed by many others on fresher tires. A couple of laps later, Busch spun on the infield grass from the lead. This dropped him all the way back to 27th. A couple more laps later, he got into the back of Keselowski, sending him for a little spin.

After restarting a few rows back, Elliott got out to a bit of a big lead over Christopher Bell in the early portion of the stage. The #9 and #20 cars put a serios gap between them and the rest of the field. Elliott appeared to be cruising toward another Daytona Road Course victory until NASCAR called a caution for rain.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 | Wild Final 15 Laps

With the rain coming down a little bit, NASCAR allowed the teams to switch to rain tires during the caution. Joey Logano and his team decided to stay out, and this decision ultimately gave them the lead. When they restarted, Elliott did his best to try and get back to the lead. He got bumped into the grass trying to run four-wide and made an epic save to keep the car together.

Behind him, Tyler Reddick would hit an advertising sign, turning his car turn into an inferno and bringing out another caution. On the restart, Martin Truex Jr. would spin on his way into turn one. Somehow, no other cars got collected in that mishap. A few laps later, Denny Hamlin got into the back of Elliott and caused him to spin. By the time the race favorite got back up to speed, he had fallen to 25th.

Shortly after, in a moment of pure hilariousness, Chase Briscoe’s hood would become unhinged and hinder his vision. That didn’t stop him from turning another lap, even with the hood of the car plastered on the windshield! Then, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon all made contact sending Busch into the wall with seven laps to go.

While all of this chaos was happening back in the pack, Logano got up to over a three-second lead on the field. After finally getting past Kurt Busch for second, Bell caught Logano in three laps. He got an assist from Logano’s brakes being too hot to function properly down the stretch of the race. and take the lead in turn 12 with two to go. Bell got by him coming to the white flag and drove away over the final lap to earn his first career NASCAR Cup Series win.

Final O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 Thoughts

The crazy last stage more than made up for the boringness of the first two stages. Chase Elliott’s road course points race wins streak ends at four with the result. For the first time since 1950, NASCAR has had first-time winners in each of the first two races. This is also the first instance of back-to-back first-time NASCAR Cup Series winners since Alex Bowman and Justin Haley accomplished the feat back in 2019.

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