With a stunning, fiery, final-lap crash involving Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell navigated 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 first place when the caution flag came out following the crash on Lap 200, just edging out Chase Elliott and winning the first Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports. The only time that McDowell -- who was a +10000 long shot to win according to William Hill Sportsbook -- led the race at all was after the crash.
McDowell's win was the conclusion to an extremely long day -- and night -- at Daytona International Speedway. The race finished about 20 minutes after midnight in the eastern time zone -- about nine hours after the green flag flew for the first time after a more-than-five-and-a-half-hour weather delay brought things to a halt. The red flag came out after after a Lap 14 crash involving 16 of the 40 cars in the field.
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Denny Hamlin, who led almost half the race, finished fifth. He won Stage One and Stage Two but fell out of the lead during the final green flag pit cycle with about 30 laps to go. Hamlin failed in his quest to become the first driver to win three consecutive Daytona 500 races. Three other drivers before him -- Sterling Marlin (1994, 1995), Cale Yarborough (1983, 1984) and Richard Petty (1973, 1974) -- won the Daytona 500 in back-to-back years.
Brad Keselowski, who was scored finishing 13th, was disappointed. He was in the running for his first Daytona 500 win, which would have given him a win in the last of the "Crown Jewel" races he's yet to take home.
Back to McDowell, who is now the 40th driver to win The Great American Race and take 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 most recent driver to do that in 2011. McDowell also 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 owned by Hamlin and NBA icon Michael Jordan, finished 17th and was knocked out of the race in that final-lap crash. Wallace led a lap and ran in the top 10 for much of the first two stages.
Daytona 500 official results
1. Michael McDowell
2. Chase Elliott
3. Austin Dillon
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Ryan Preece
7. Ross Chastain
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Corey LaJoie
10. Kyle Larson
The Cup Series is back in Daytona next week 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 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kyle Busch won the 35-lap Busch Clash at Daytona earlier this February as part of the lead-up to the Daytona 500.
Relive live all of the action of the 63rd running of The Great American Race, and Michael McDowell's first career Cup Series win in our live blog below.