Finally, we have a winner of the Daytona 500. After all of the delays in starting, weather issues, crash delays, and finally finishing on the very next day… the winner is, “Michael McDowell”.
Just 15 laps into the race, driver Christopher Bell pushed Aric Almirola and he took out a host of cars. The crash however, did not cause the race to be halted. About five minutes later, lighting from tropical thunder storms flashed into the sky. Then, the rain came down, so the officials decided to stop the race for a rain delay. This was an appropriate move as the drivers then waited patiently, as the delay lasted for approximately five hours.
Normally, out of a 200-lap race like the Daytona 500, drivers start out very conservative before flooring their cars towards the mid-way and then the end of the race. But these drivers were very aggressive from the start, and perhaps too aggressive, that such an accident happened 15-laps into the race. How else would this happen? Normally, this is rare. But Bell was not the original instigator of the push or was he?
How it all Started
Veteran NASCAR driver Kyle Bush started the wreck with a push to Bell, then Bell pushed Almirola, which then Almirola’s car was bumped into Alex Boman. Then, a even bigger crash happened into the next part of the race. A total of 16 drivers and cars were engaged in the crash, to include longtime teammate of Dale Earnhart Jr., Martin Truex Jr, and Ryan Newman who won the Daytona 500 back in 2008. Others included fellow-vet Jamie McMurray, who has never won the Daytona 500. McDowell even hit the wall in the crash, but his car didn’t have enough damage to slow him down. The accident occurred at around 3:30 pm, est. Then the big rain delay happened and the race resumed about 9:00 pm.
How it Finished
On the final lap, Joey Lagano was leading the pack and was on pace to winning another Daytona 500 for himself. Unfortunately, fate turned as a massive wreck occurred, leading into another pile of multiple cars and drivers. Lagano’s car was tapped by teammate Brad Keselowski, opening a huge lane for McDowell who was a 100-1 underdog and had no chance heading into the race. Luckily, McDowell was able to hit the open hole and survive the crash without major damage. McDowell was able to hold off Chase Eliot and come up on top with the upset victory.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 15, 2021
McDowell was born on Dec. 21, 1984 in Glendale, Arizona. He currently is competing in the NASCAR Cup Series as a full-time driver of the #34 car for Front Row Motorsports. McDowell began his career racing open-wheel cars competing in Formula Renault and Champ Car. He then moved onto sports cars, participating in the Rolex Sports Car Series and 24 hours of Daytona. McDowell started his NASCAR Career in 2006, and in 2008, he then saw his first action competing in a Cup Series. His 2008 season also is known for a violent crash during his qualifying run at the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Up until his win in the 2021 Daytona 500, McDowell never won a Cup Series race in NASCAR, and his best finish in his career was second place behind A.J. Allmedinger in the 2013 Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio. His last series racing win came in Indy-Car when he won four races in-a-row at the end of the 2004 season, in which he won the Star Mazda Championship Series. In 2013, McDowell finished 9th in the Daytona 500, but sadly failed to qualify for the 2014 version.
Our congratulations go out to McDowell on his 1st Daytona 500 Win!
Remembering The “Great” Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Earnhardt Sr. was born on April 29, 1951 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. In 1968 at 17-years old, Earnhardt Sr. married his first wife Latane Brow. The couple then had their first son Kerry Earnhardt in 1969. Then, they divorced in 1970, and Earnhardt Sr, quickly moved on, as he married his second wife Brenda Gee in 1971. Gee and Earnhardt Sr. then had a daughter in 1972 named Kelly King Earnhardt, and Dale, Jr. in 1974. Earnhardt Sr. and Gee rapidly divorced shortly after Earnhardt, Jr. was born.
Earnhardt Sr. was single for 12-more years, until 1982 when he married his third and final wife, Teresa Houston. Houston had their daugther, Taylor Nicole Earnhardt in 1988. Taylor and her husband, Brandon Putnan, are professional rodeo performers.
Earnhardt Sr.’s Final Race
On Feb. 18, 2001, Earnhardt Sr. was on his way to a top-3 finish in the Daytona 500. He was behind his son, Dale. Jr, who would finish in second-place, with eventual winner Michael Waltrip. Then, tragedy began to strick, becoming one of the most critical moments in NASCAR history.
On the final lap, Earnhardt Sr. collided with Ken Schrader after making contact with Sterling Martin. He then hit the outside wall head-on. He was blocking Schrader on the outside and Martin on the inside at the time of the crash.
Then, tragedy struck as at 5:16pm est, Earnhardt Sr. was officially pronounced dead at the Halifax Medical Center. NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed the death in a statement to the press. On Feb. 19, Earnhardt Sr.’s autopsy conducted that Earnhardt Sr. suffered a basilar skull fracture. Earnhardt was 49-years-old.
The death was a very sad day in the NASCAR world, especially for Dale Jr. He did not win the race, but sometimes, family comes first. It probably would have honored his father had he won. Known as the “Intimidator”, Earnhardt Sr. carried with him a very impressive career, and also created a talented family of NASCAR drivers and one rodeo rider. Earnhardt Sr. was there for the family, and even taught Dale Jr. how to drive. It also taught Dale Jr. not to drive as aggressive and recklessly, and to always protect your head.
In 2004, Earnhardt Jr. carried the name and won his first ever Daytona 500 in honor of his late dad. “The great” will always be remembered in NASCAR history as a winner. Dale Sr., you made NASCAR fans very proud.
The tweet below was taken before the 2001 Daytona 500 to show what an impact Earnhardt Sr. really did have on the racing community…
This photo was taken at intros before the 2001 Daytona 500. Today, we remember Dale Sr. for who he was & for his impact on #NASCAR. Watch #CoffeeWithKyle to hear Mike Helton talk about that day and how racing changed because of it. Very honest stuff… https://t.co/Vprz4AjQKu pic.twitter.com/WpmGZDuqOa
— Kyle Petty (@kylepetty) February 18, 2019