Talk about Cinderella stories. Michael McDowell picked a fine time to snag his first-career win, as he is now a champion of the most prestigious race in the NASCAR Cup Series — the Daytona 500. McDowell always seems to be in the hunt at Daytona and Talladega, and on Sunday, he was in the right place at the right time when chaos struck at the front of the field.
McDowell, 36, had pushed Brad Keselowski to second-place and it looked like he was going to provide the victorious shove to the driver of the No. 2, when Keselowski made contact with the leader of the race — and his teammate — Joey Logano.
Keselowski and Logano went around, and Keselowski crashed hard with Kyle Busch as McDowell crusied to the ultimate victory.
“I just can’t believe it,” McDowell said after climbing from the car. “Just gotta thank God. So many years, just grinding it out, hoping for an opportunity like this. Got to thank Love’s Travel Stops, Speedco, Bob Jenkins for giving me this opportunity. I’m so thankful, such a great way to get a first victory in the Daytona 500, are you kidding me?!”
Here is video of the wild final lap:
Another look at the big wreck on the last lap of the #DAYTONA500.
All drivers have climbed out of their cars. pic.twitter.com/UmRtWoJ5YA
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 15, 2021
For McDowell, his first-career win comes in his 358th-career start. It had been a long road, but the Arizona-native is a NASCAR Cup Series winner.
Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott finished runner-up.
Austin Dillon came up just shy of his second-career Daytona 500 win as he finished third. Kevin Harvick was fourth and Denny Hamlin, who was chasing a third-consecutive Daytona 500 win finished fifth.
Ryan Preece finished sixth and he was followed by Ross Chastain, Jamie McMurray, Corey LaJoie and Kyle Larson in the top-10.
For Keselowski, the frustration was incredible. He was so close to finally snagging the ultimate prize, when he was sent flying into the catch fence on the final lap of the race.
“Had a big run down the backstretch and went to make the pass to win the Daytona 500 and it ended up really bad,” Keselowski anguished. “I don’t feel like I made a mistake, but I can’t drive everyone else’s car. So, frustrating. The Discount Tire Ford wasn’t the fastest, but Jeremy Bullins and the whole team did a great job of keeping us in position, right then we were in position.”
It was a wild 63rd-annual Daytona 500. On lap 14, a 16-car pileup ensued, which thinned out the field.
Moments after that crash, a lightning strike halted the action. After a five hour and 40 minute weather delay, the race continued and ran to the conclusion.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.