Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Michael McDowell; The Daytona Underdog

Not crowned until early Monday morning, through the rain and wreckage, Michael McDowell wins his first career cup series race, as he is crowned the winner of the 63rd Daytona 500. McDowell was winless in his first 357 career Cup starts and 13 seasons. This was the season-opening race for the 2021 NASCAR Cup-Series.

It’s only the third victory for Front Row Motorsports and team owner Bob Jenkins, whose cars have 1,081 starts in Cup.

The Race

What a long and grueling event for these racers and team. To start, on just the 14th lap, there was a 16-car pileup.

This wouldn’t even be the most significant crash of the event. Racers like Almirola, Blaney, Suárez, Jones, Bowman and Newman were unable to finish the race after this crash. A huge bummer for racers and teams to go out that early in the race. Following this wreck, a weather delay was issued. The rain and lightning would delay the race for close to six hours!

Weather Delay

A little after 9 o’clock, the race continued under the lights in Daytona.

An interesting rule in NASCAR is after a red flag when conditions are too dangerous, racers are only allowed six minutes to fix up their car. So during that delay, they were not able to mess with their vehicles. Part of the reason some racers were not able to continue.

Post-Delay

Another collision took place on just the 38th lap. The crash involved Quin Houff and Cup Series rookie Chase Briscoe.

Denny Hamlin was the leader after Stage 1, the first 65 laps. Yet, another crash would happen on Lap 112. This would bring out the fifth caution flag of the day.

Although it was tight, Hamlin would win Stage 2 as well, the next 65 laps. Hamlin was the favorite to win this race going in.

Final Lap

Joey Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski were in first and second on the final lap. Here is the exciting call from the final lap:

 

Here is the video of the big finish:

Before the crash, Michael McDowell was in third place. He taps Keselowski and spins him off which leads to the pileup. A tight finish, McDowell places first, he did not lead until the final lap. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott finished .07 seconds behind McDowell while Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick finished third and fourth, respectively.

Denny Hamlin finished fifth after winning the race back-to-back years and leading after the first two stages. He led a race-high 98 laps. Hamlin would’ve been the third racer to win the Daytona 500 at least four times, Yarborough (4) and Petty (7).

Another exciting milestone from the race, Bubba Wallace became the first black NASCAR driver to lead the Daytona 500 during lap 129. The biggest relief is that nobody was seriously injured today and that they were able to finish the race, almost, the day of.

About Andrew Cairns

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