Michael McDowell Takes Home First-Ever Daytona 500 Win

Allison Gould, Life Editor

On Feb. 14, the 2021 DAYTONA 500 Race took place, with Michael McDowell coming out on top. This event kicks off the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing season, with many more races lined up for the remainder of 2021.

Daytona Beach, Florida serves as the event’s permanent location, with The Great American Race taking place at the World Center for Racing on the Daytona International Speedway. The event consisted of 43 individual drivers and their teams, including the projected winner but ultimate fifth place finisher Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin was predicted to win due to his previous Daytona champion titles in 2019 and 2020. If he were to come in first place in the 2021 race, he would become the first-ever driver to win three Daytona 500s in a row. 

Although COVID-19 restrictions limited the number of spectators from over 100,000 to just 30,000, many had hoped the energy surrounding the event would stay the same; unfortunately, circumstances proved otherwise.

As the drivers kicked off the annual event, they faced much adversity. After about a six hour rain delay consisting of thunder and hail storms, the race finally began. On the 14th lap, 16 of the drivers got into a car pileup, indicating how the rest of the race would go. 

Due to the large amounts of rain, the track had some natural alterations and a new, muddy terrain. Many cars dealt with issues, pulling them out of the race and into their stations for repair. Some of the vehicles damaged throughout the race included a car partially owned by Miami singer Pitbull.

After many hours of racing, the cars approached the final lap with relief and excitement. As the drivers in the lead approached the third turn, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Darrell Wallace Jr., along with many surrounding cars, got into a fiery crash. Every driver involved came out safely, but it resulted in a complete disturbance of the race.

This crash, which McDowell avoided, allowed him to pass those favored to win. He ended up the champion, winning the race by a mere 0.07 seconds ahead of Chase Elliot, according to the Washington Post

This race marked McDowell’s first-ever Daytona 500 winner title, coming out as the underdog of the year.