Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-16):
● Kevin Harvick started fifth and finished ninth, collecting two bonus points.
● Harvick was in ninth place when the caution flag was displayed on lap 13. He reported that he couldn’t get his Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to turn in the middle of the Bus Stop. The team made a trip to pit road for four tires and fuel along with both air and chassis adjustments.
● Green-flag racing resumed on lap 14 with Harvick in seventh place.
● Harvick finished the stage in ninth place, noting that the car lacked side bit and he still needed help getting it to turn.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 17-34):
● Harvick started 16th and finished 12th.
● The Bus Stop continued to be a problem for the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang. Harvick was able to pick up positions as the stage unfolded, despite persistent handling issues.
● The caution flag was displayed on lap 28 with Harvick in 13th place. He reported that he didn’t think the chassis adjustment made during the previous trip to pit road did much help. Because the team wanted to save tires for the final stage, they elected to stay out during the caution.
● Harvick lined up second for the lap-30 restart. He maintained a presence among the top-five for a few laps before cars with fresher tires began overtaking him for position. He was in 12th place when the stage concluded.
● Harvick reported that his Mobil 1 Ford Mustang still needed help with drive off the corners and for the front tires to turn better.
● The team stopped for four tires, fuel, chassis and air pressure adjustments during the caution.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 35-70):
● Harvick started eighth and finished sixth.
● Once again, Harvick quietly went to work when green-flag racing resumed. He maintained a presence in the top-10 as the laps wound down.
● Green-flag pit stops started taking place on lap 50. The No. 4 Mobil 1 team gave up the eighth position to make their green-flag stop on lap 51. It was four tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment.
● Harvick was back to eighth place by the time green-flag stops cycled through on lap 54.
● Rain forced NASCAR to display the caution on lap 57. Harvick was scored in eighth place.
● The No. 4 team elected to make a trip to pit road for tires and fuel. A number of teams elected to stay out during the caution. Harvick lined up 13th for the restart.
● A few cars that stayed out had a hard time getting up to speed on the lap-59 restart. It resulted in a number of teams making contact with each other. Harvick was in 11th place and avoided the accidents.
● Following a caution on lap 60, Harvick was scored in eighth place. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 63.
● Attrition continued to build during the closing laps and Harvick took full advantage. He was up to sixth place with four laps to go and maintained the positon to the checkered flag.
● This was Harvick’s second straight top-10 of 2021. He finished fourth in the season-opening Daytona 500.
● Harvick earned his first top-10 in two career NASCAR Cup Series starts on the Daytona road course.
● Harvick’s sixth-place result bettered his previous best finish on the Daytona road course – 17th, earned in the series’ prior visit to the track last August.
● Christopher Bell won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Joey Logano was 2.119 seconds.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 12 laps.
● Thirty-two of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin leaves Daytona as the championship leader with a 12-point advantage over second-place Logano.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“There was lots of chaos. We had a pretty solid day with our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang and were a lot better. We missed all of the chaos and finished the race. Our goal was to score stage points and we did that. We also wanted to finish in the top-10 and we did that, so we’re going to leave and go home.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday, Feb. 28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race begins at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.