It took 14 seasons, 358 starts and a five hour and 40 minute rain delay, but Michael McDowell is a NASCAR race winner. Not only is he a race winner, but his first Cup Series victory was the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500. McDowell piloted the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Love’s Ford Mustang to a dramatic victory. A violent last lap crash altered the outcome of the race on the final lap. The crash eliminated last lap contenders Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and numerous other contenders. Escaping with no damage was Michael McDowell, who held on to the lead until the caution lights came on. This secured his first career victory.
2020 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Chase Elliott finished in second, while 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon finished in third. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin finished fourth and fifth respectively. JTG-Daugherty driver Ryan Preece finished in sixth, while Ross Chastain finished in seventh on his debut with new team Chip Ganassi Racing. Spire Motorsports drivers Jamie McMurray and Corie Lajoie finished eighth and ninth, an impressive finish for the relatively new Cup Series team. Rounding out the top ten was Kyle Larson, making his return to Cup Series racing with Hendrick Motorsports.
Watch the final two laps below! (Credit: NASCAR on Fox)
McDowell stated while celebrating his first career win, “I can’t believe it! I’ve got to thank God. So many years of just grinding it out, hoping for an opportunity like this. I’ve got to thank (team owner) Bob Jenkins for giving me this opportunity. I’m so thankful. What a great way to get a first victory, in the Daytona 500!” Chase Elliott, who finished in second, stated, “I saw the lights come on, and I knew it was over right then. We had a fast car. We weren’t as good as I thought we were on Thursday. I thought we did a really good job of executing today, staying out of trouble. That’s not something I’ve done a very good job of here in this race, so I’m glad we could at least finish this race and have something to build on for when we come back and try to do better.”
The next round of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season takes place on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course next Sunday. Fans can watch the event at 3pm on Fox Sports 1.
Featured Image Credit: USA Today Sports
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