DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Michael McDowell stormed through a crash scene to win the Daytona 500, snapping an 0-for-357 streak with a fiery pileup in his rearview mirror.
McDowell led just the final lap — maybe half of it, really — when Brad Keselowski turned teammate Joey Logano as the Team Penske drivers jockeyed for the victory.
McDowell stayed flat in the gas and plowed past the two spinning cars to the lead, then won a three-wide drag race until NASCAR threw a race-ending caution.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 14: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Se
It was mayhem behind McDowell as a huge pack of cars could not avoid Keselowski and Logano. The collisions were one on top of another, flames erupting all over Daytona International Speedway as the race came to a close early Monday morning, nearly nine hours after it began.
McDowell, a 36-year-old journeyman from Arizona, was a 100-1 underdog at the start of the race and seemed in disbelief after taking his first checkered flag.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 14: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2021 in Dayton
"So many years just grinding it out hoping for an opportunity like this," McDowell said. "We’re the Daytona 500 champions. I cannot believe this. Luckily was able to make it through."
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The Daytona 500 champ spoke to FOX 35 on Monday morning.
Congratulations! What a night it has been for you. I'm sure a very short night so thanks for joining us.
To have your first win be the Daytona 500, that is tough to script. When will that sink in?
It was a wild day and a wild final lap ending with your big move. What were you thinking when you saw this play out?
How tough was it to wait through that six hours? Has your cell phone stopped buzzing since going through that finish line?
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