Michael McDowell managed to survive rain delays, wrecks, and battling other NASCAR drivers to win the Daytona 500 early Monday morning.
This year’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., started with sunshine, had a monsoon rainfall in the midst, a touch of fog, and ended under the lights. The wreck on lap 14 derailed the race before the rain even started.
It was Denny Hamlin who captured the first two stages of the NASCAR Cup Series season opener. Upon winning the second stage of Sunday’s race, Hamlin passed NASCAR legend Bobby Allison in the all-time Daytona 500 laps-led list. McDowell managed to take the lead during the final lap, his only lead of the night.
McDowell, driving the No. 34 Ford Mustang took the lead just at the end of the race after a massive, dramatic crash. After the rain delay and initial wreck, the race seemed largely incident-free, until the lead changing crash. Take a look at the crash below.
Daytona 500 Fanfare
Earlier Sunday, there was a cross between country music and sports entertainment. Country music singer-songwriter Luke Combs performed at the pre-race opening ceremonies, then visited Bubba Wallace along Pit Road.
World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Sasha Banks, who also recently appeared in “The Mandalorian,” was the honorary starter for the Daytona 500.
Sunday’s race also marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt. “The Intimidator” died after a serious wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500. Earnhardt, who drove the No. 3 car, was honored on the third lap of Sunday’s race when every person in Pit Road and fans around the stands put up three fingers to honor his memory.
The win is McDowell’s first victory in 358 starts. McDowell will look to follow up on his victory next Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Daytona Road Course.