Daytona 500: Did a Broken Spoiler Have Something To Do With Michael McDowell Winning the NASCAR Race?

by Emily Morgan

After Sunday’s Daytona 500, some are questioning if Michael McDowell’s involvement in the 16-car crash contributed to his victory.

Michael McDowell slapped the wall during the race while slowing down to prepare for a crash ahead of him. You can see him slide up into the wall while he’s on the brakes, missing cars on the way.

How Michael McDowell’s Mishap Could Have Launched Him to Victory

As a result, his car suffered damage on the right side, most of it showing on the right rear.

“What happened was the last six inches of the spoiler we had side-slapped the wall and we had right-side damage and it kind of bent the spoiler,” crew chief Drew Blickensderfer said.

However, that unforeseen damage could have been key to his path to victory. His ability to avoid the crash that took out both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski could have led to his win.

NASCAR issues the large spoilers on the racecars to keep teams from manipulating them, which keeps the vehicles on the ground. The heavy-duty spoilers also slow the cars down.

While spoiler damage usually hinders a car’s ability to accelerate, there’s the possibility the damage could have helped Michael McDowell. The lower part of the spoiler might have given him a boost to keep him at the front throughout the second half.

“In the [1.5-mile track] car, that would have been worse,” Blickensderfer said. “We have less drag if we have the spoiler closer to the back window. I am not sure if it was better or worse. All weekend long Michael said it was the best pushing car he has ever had down here. And that’s a great thing for a guy like Michael and Front Row Motorsports because when we pull out of line people don’t want to go with you a lot of times. But if you can push all day long and they realize you’ve helped them and helped them, it kind of builds some in the bank to where they’ll go with you.”

NASCAR Spoiler Regulations Worked in McDowell’s Favor

Typically, a broken spoiler is not allowed by NASCAR. But while Michael McDowell’s car had to go through inspection after the race, NASCAR doesn’t typically fail the cars if a crash caused the issue.

“Our car was narrowed up a little bit on the right side from the damage,” Blickensderfer added. “Our spoiler was kind of twisted back, the last six inches of it and kind of opened up. So sure, it helped us get to Victory Lane. So I don’t know if it was better or worse on the racetrack. I’ve seen it go both ways. Yeah, it was something we were a little concerned about because, like I said, on a mile-and-a-half car a lot of times, the opposite has been less drag.”

If NASCAR found an issue with McDowell’s car, NASCAR would disqualify Michael McDowell, and Chase Elliott would be the winner.