With a dazzling, blazing, final-lap crash including Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell explored through the pileup to win the 2021 Daytona 500. It’s McDowell’s first career NASCAR Cup Series win in his 14th season.
McDowell was in the first place when the alert flag came out after the crash on Lap 200, simply pushing out Chase Elliott and winning the first Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports. The solitary time that McDowell – who was a +10000 long shot to win as indicated by William Hill Sportsbook – led the race at all was after the crash.
McDowell’s success was the conclusion to a very difficult day – and night – at Daytona International Speedway. The race completed around 20 minutes after midnight in the eastern time region – around nine hours after the green flag flew for the first time after a more-than-five-and-a-half-hour weather delay carried things to a stop. The warning came out after a Lap 14 crash including 16 of the 40 cars in the field.
Denny Hamlin, who led almost half the race, completed 5th. He won Stage One and Stage Two yet dropped out of the lead during the last green-flag pit cycle with around 30 laps to go. Hamlin failed in his mission to become the first driver to win three continuous Daytona 500 races.
Three different drivers before him – Sterling Marlin (1994, 1995), Cale Yarborough (1983, 1984), and Richard Petty (1973, 1974) – won the Daytona 500 in consecutive years.
Brad Keselowski, who was scored completing thirteenth, was disillusioned. He was in the running for his first Daytona 500 win, which would have given him a success in the last of the “Crown Jewel” races he’s yet to bring home.
Back to McDowell, who is currently the 40th driver to win The Great American Race and bring home the Harley J. Earl Trophy. He’s the eighth driver to win his first Cup Series race in the Daytona 500. Trevor Bayne was the latest driver to do that in 2011. McDowell likewise punched his ticket to the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Bubba Wallace, who was making his debut in the No. 23 car for 23XI Racing possessed by Hamlin and NBA icon Michael Jordan, completed seventeenth and was taken out of the race in that final-lap crash. Wallace led a lap and ran in the top 10 for much of the initial two stages.
Daytona 500 official results
- Michael McDowell
- Chase Elliott
- Austin Dillon
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin
- Ryan Preece
- Ross Chastain
- Jamie McMurray
- Corey LaJoie
- Kyle Larson
The Cup Series is back in Daytona one week from now on the road course at Daytona International Speedway for the 70-lap O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona. It’s the second time the Cup Series has run a points race on the road course.
Chase Elliott won on it in August 2020 when the road course was added to the schedule as a replacement for the race at Watkins Glen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kyle Busch won the 35-lap Busch Clash at Daytona before this February as a feature of the lead-up to the Daytona 500.