By David Morgan, Associate Editor
The last two weeks, Joey Logano has found himself in contention for the win at Daytona International Speedway with a few laps to go, but will leave with a goose-egg in the win column.
Logano was leading the pack into Turn 3 on the final lap of the Daytona 500 before a run-in with his Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, saw him getting swept up in a fiery, multi-car crash. Fast forward to Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on the Daytona road course and once again, he was leading the way with a multi-second advantage over the rest of the field.
This go around, it wasn’t a crash that denied him the victory, but a young driver hungry for his first NASCAR Cup Series win and fading equipment on his Ford Mustang that would leave him without a win at the World Center of Racing.
That driver was none other than Christopher Bell, who chased down Logano over the closing laps, pulling alongside the 2018 series champion through Turn 3-4 of the oval portion of the Daytona road course and completing the pass for the win through the frontstretch chicane before taking the white flag.
Over the final lap, Bell was able to pull away from Logano as the two weaved their way around the 3.61-mile course to take the win by 2.119 seconds. Ironically, Bell drives the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing – the same car that Logano drove to his first career win back in 2009.
“I was trying to keep him behind me,” Logano said. “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.
“One more lap. One more caution lap would have been enough to at least have a door-to-door finish across the line maybe, I don’t know. It’s hard. When he starts catching you a second a lap. Gosh, I was just trying to get all I could on that restart, trying to get out there as far as I could because I knew as soon as those guys with tires were gonna catch us really quick. We’ve made gains with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang on road courses, but we’re not quite good enough yet.”