NASCAR driver Michael McDowell managed to avoid a fiery crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series career win.
Denny Hamlin began the race with the goal of making NASCAR history. He had won the last two Daytona 500 races. Denny became only the fourth driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 in back-to-back seasons. If he could make it three years in a row, he would be the first driver to ever achieve that milestone.
Denny appeared poised to do just that. He was the winner of both stage one and stage two of the race. He was the dominant car leading a race high 98 laps in the 200 lap race. However, following the final green-flag pit stops of the race Denny lost the lead with just 26 laps remaining in the race. He would have to figure out a way to race back to the front from outside the top 10 if he would be able to win the race.
Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were running in first and second places respectively on the last lap of the race. The two drivers began racing hard for the win and ended up wrecking each other instead. Their wreck collected several other cars near the front of the field in a fiery crash that all drivers were able to walk away from.
Michael McDowell was in third place when the chaos began. He was able to avoid the wrecking cars and scoot out to the lead. He was in the lead when NASCAR issued the yellow flag freezing the running order and clinching the Daytona 500 win. This gave Michael his first Cup Series win in his 14 year career in NASCAR’s top division. Michael becomes only the 8th driver in NASCAR history to score his first career win in the Daytona 500 (Tiny Lind – 1963, Mario Andretti – 1967, Pete Hamilton – 1970, Derrike Cope – 1990, Sterling Marlin – 1994, Michael Waltrip – 2001 and Trevor Bayne – 2011).
Chase Elliott claimed a second place finish with Austin Dillon finishing third. Kevin Harvick got a fourth place finish. Denny Hamlin was not able to make history by winning, but he was able to round out the top five. See the complete race results for the Daytona 500 here.
Austin Dillon is the point leader following the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin sits in second place with Kevin Harvick in third place. Chase Elliott is fourth in the point standings. Michael McDowell’s win clinches his spot in the post-season and earns him fifth spot in the point standings. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series point standings here.
The teams and drivers remain in Daytona for next week’s race. It will be very different from the Daytona 500 though. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 At Daytona will take place on the Daytona Road Course Sunday, February 21st.
By: Buck Stevens