The second race of the NASCAR Cup Series 2021 season already gave drivers a taste of what to expect on the road courses. Another surprise winner in Christopher Bell made things very interesting for the races to come, after a chaotic end to the race at Daytona.
When there is so much on the line, emotions run high, and the team radio becomes a rather interesting medium for expressing those emotions. The drivers do not shy away from saying their thoughts out loud, and the Daytona race had plenty of such moments too.
The start of the race itself was chaotic, with Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch suffering damage on the opening lap. Busch felt his car was ‘killed’ and ‘destroyed’ already and informed his team he was visiting pit road for repairs.
“It’s not KO’d. Knocked a hole in the nose for sure,” spotter Tony Hirschman assured him. Then, Busch went into the grass at the side of the track, reminding him of young Ty Gibbs’s incident from the previous night in the Xfinity race.
“I got knocked in the grass. Went through no worse than Ty Gibbs went through and my **** destroyed,” Busch said.
The first stage saw some nervy moments, but road course king Chase Elliott swept the stage, taking a big lead early on. Denny Hamlin showed his skills on the road course and stayed close throughout. Hamlin also showed his humorous side as he interacted with his team.
Crew Chief Chris Gabehart was impressed with Hamlin’s start. “Right side looks good. Body looks good. No worries,” Gabehart told Hamlin. “Appreciate it. I’ve been working on my diet, like pretty hard,” the No. 11 driver replied.
Gabehart liked his driver’s sense of humor and was surprised to see that. “And your humor, I see. That’s the most I’ve gotten out of you in two years,” he added.
To this, Hamlin gave an even funnier reply. “Well, as Matt Kenseth says, only my jokes are funny,” Hamlin said.
While Hamlin continued his strong run, teammate Martin Truex Jr. hit Kurt Busch from behind and was frustrated by his mistake. “Killed my tire. My left front’s shot. I screwed up big time. I was just trying to show my nose on the inside, hit the brake too hard,” Truex told his team.
Hamlin won the stage before the clouds started to set in. As it started to rain, many cars chose to pit. Elliott was still expected to get back his lead soon and dominate further, but he knew things could get dicey.
Crew chief Alan Gustafson warned him, “A lot of slow stuff in front of you guys.” Elliott replied,” Yeah, man. It’s going to be a lottery who gets through it or not.”
As he expected, it was chaos out there. Many cars wrecked, including Elliott. However, the champ made a stunning save to stay alive in the race after going into the grass. Tyler Reddick’s car caught fire, and his team asked him to stop.
Busch faced further issues despite fighting hard. “Every ******* corner is rubbing,” he quipped. The big moment came soon as Elliott wrecked along with Hamlin and others, ending Elliott’s chances of a fifth straight road course win.
Meanwhile, in the battle for the lead, Bell chased down Logano to everyone’s surprise. It also brought out a “da*n it” from Logano.
The 26-year-old kept his composure and won his first NASCAR Cup Series race. “Oh my god! Thank you, guys. Holy Smokes!” said an ecstatic Bell to his team.
Crew Chief Adam Stevens, moving to the No. 20 unit from Kyle Busch’s 18 was overjoyed for his new driver. “I am so proud of you, Christopher Bell. Proud to tears, man. Proud to tears,” said Stevens.
With this win, Bell booked his place in the playoffs with McDowell. If the Daytona races are a sign of things to come, we can expect many more thrilling races as the season progresses.