Michael McDowell Won The Daytona 500 After The Leaders Wrecked In A Fiery Last Lap Crash

The 2021 Daytona 500 was a marathon, as the race that began at 2:30 p.m. ET didn’t finish until nearly 12:30 a.m. ET on Monday with two big crashes early and late defining the race on each side of a lengthy rain delay.

The first wreck saw a number of the top contenders in the race get knocked out on the 14th lap, as Aric Almirola got turned near the front of the pack after Kyle Busch got a big run pushing Christopher Bell and collected 15 other cars with him.

The race would go to a red flag due to the carnage of the wreck and immediately into a lightning delay that turned into a rain delay that stopped action until 9 p.m. ET. When they restarted, there were just 24 cars on the lead lap and while there were a couple minor incidents, things went fairly smoothly for most of the next 190 or so laps. Everyone was content to ride around single file late until the final lap, when guys got antsy and with a pack of Fords leading the race, with Joey Logano ahead of teammate Brad Keselowski and fellow Ford Michael McDowell, all they needed to do was hold on for a great finish.

However, McDowell got a huge run behind the 2 car and when Keselowski tried to dip below Logano for the pass, the 22 tried to block but was too late and both got turned around, Keselowski flying up into the wall and Logano into the grass. McDowell, Austin Dillon, and Chase Elliott managed to get through, with McDowell leading when the yellow flag officially flew, making the race official and McDowell the winner, but the focus was on the carnage behind them as cars piled up in a fiery blaze.

It was a wild finish to a wild day at Daytona, and for McDowell it is a career-defining performance and win for both he and his race team, as he picked up his first career win at the most storied race of them all. For everyone else it’s a tough end to the night, but happily everyone emerged from the wreck relatively unscathed and was released quickly from the infield care center and will move on to the road course at Daytona next week.