USA TODAY US Edition
New NASCAR hot shots here
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR’s youth movement was on full display last weekend – at all levels of racing.
Christopher Bell, 26, stole the show on Sunday, running down, catching and then passing past champion Joey Logano to earn his first Cup Series win in just his 38th start.
With Chase Elliott, 25, winning last year’s championship, Bell winning Sunday and an influx of talent at all three national series levels, it’s clear now that the NASCAR young guns are here.
Time to make everyone feel old!
Christopher Bell breaks through
Yes, Bell caught and passed Logano because he was the one on fresh tires. Don’t let that take away from the fact the Joe Gibbs racer had one of the fastest cars in the field.
Bell challenged road course ace Elliott all afternoon, and, like Elliott, pitted late in the race. Both drivers started in the middle of the pack, but it was Bell who maneuvered his way through the field like a savvy veteran.
Bell is in his second full-time season and is a 2017 Camping World Truck Series champion. He also made it to the championship race in both Xfinity seasons before moving to Cup last year.
Now that he’s in good equipment, look out.
Ty Gibbs makes a statement
Bell stole the show Sunday, but Ty Gibbs was the star of the weekend.
The grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, Ty, 18, dazzled in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, making a daring four-wide pass in the waning laps to win in his first national series start.
“This is a dream come true,” said an emotional Gibbs, who became the sixth driver to win in his Xfinity debut.
Gibbs has eight wins in 28 ARCA starts and is set to run 14 more Xfinity races this season along with his fulltime ARCA duties.
Austin Cindric ready for Cup debut
Gibbs outran defending series champion Austin Cindric to win the Xfinity race, but don’t get it twisted: Cindric is the class of the Xfinity field.
The 22-year-old began his title defense with a win on Daytona’s tri-oval in the Xfinity opener and nearly made it two in a row before his car got tangled with AJ Allmendinger’s early in the race. Still, Cindric fought back with no right front fender and nearly won, ultimately finishing second.
It won’t be long before you see him on Sundays, either. It’s already been announced that Cindric will replace Matt DiBenedetto in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford in 2022.
Reddick, Briscoe up next?
With Bell’s win Sunday and Michael McDowell’s triumph in last week’s Daytona 500, this is the third time in Cup Series history the first two races of the season were won by first-time winners.
Don’t be surprised if the next firsttimer is right around the corner.
Chase Briscoe, 26, is coming off a nine-win Xfinity campaign last season and is in Clint Bowyer’s old No. 14 for Stewart-Haas Racing. It won’t be long before he’s in victory lane.
The same can be said about Tyler Reddick, 25, who had a sneaky good rookie campaign in 2020, along with Ross Chastain – the 28-year-old watermelon farmer who’s running full time in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Chevy this year.
Then there’s Bubba Wallace, 27, who’s now in supposedly good equipment at newly formed 23XI Racing. We’ll get to see this weekend at Miami just how good that car can be.