Christopher Bell claimed his first career NASCAR Cup Series win at Daytona International Speedway road course on this evening. Bell led only five laps of the 70-lap event, but that included the final lap en route to the checkered flag after chasing down race-leader Joey Logano in the final five laps. Bell completed the weekend sweep for Toyota after Ben Rhodes drove his Tundra to victory in Friday night‘s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Ty Gibbs claimed the win driving his Supra in his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series start and Bell finished the sweep off with his Camry in the Cup Series race.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How does this feel?
“I don‘t know, this is definitely one of the highlights of my life so far. I‘m just so incredibly thankful to be here at Joe Gibbs Racing with all of our partners — Rheem, DeWalt, Pristine Auction, Toyota, TRD. 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.”
After you got past Kurt Busch with five to go, did you think you had a shot at catching Joey Logano?
“No, I really didn‘t. Whenever we pitted and then we came out, I liked where we lined up, but then the yellows kept coming and I thought the yellows were hurting me because I felt like I needed laps to get back up through there. Honestly, I didn‘t think I was going to get there, but Adam (Stevens, crew chief) up on the pit box kept telling me I was going to get there. I didn‘t believe it, but he really struggled coming out of (turn) six one time and allowed me to close the gap. I just wish my wife was here to celebrate with me.”
Can you describe your emotions after getting your first career Cup Series win?
“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. Really proud for all of our partners at Rheem, DeWalt, Pristine Auctions — it‘s a dream come true.”
With less than five laps to go, you had to make up more than three seconds. Did you think you could catch Joey Logano?
“I just kept doing what I was doing all day long. Whenever we took the green flag, I felt like I was really patient. Kyle (Busch) tried to go three-wide around me at the start. I knew that I was okay. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) kept asking what I needed in the car and I didn‘t really need anything. Just took my time to get going, get up to speed and really proud to be here.”
How hard have you worked to get better on the road courses?
“It‘s just seat time and experience and doing it. They‘re a lot of fun. They‘re fun to run. Last year, I guess the two years in Xfinity, we got a bunch of road courses run so that probably helped me out a lot. This year we got nine of them I think so better get good at it.”
What does it mean to be a winner at Daytona?
“The superspeedway has been horrible for me, but this road course, we should make this an every year event.”
— Toyota Racing —