Daytona 500 Recap


Photo via Bleacher Report

The 63rd running of the Daytona 500 was one for the memory books as longshot Michael Mcdowell was able to secure his first-ever victory. For racing fans who stayed up late to watch the race, they were not disappointed in the finish. NASCAR has officially started with the Daytona 500 in the books and now it’s time to break down what happened on this busy Daytona week.

Leading up to the Daytona 500, there were storylines, new teams, new drivers, and a new season on the horizon. The Busch Clash, which is a preseason race to kick off Daytona week, took center stage on Tuesday night. Kyle Busch was victorious after Chase Elliott attempted to spin Ryan Blaney for the win. Qualifying for the 500 saw Alex Bowman and William Byron take first and second respectively. William Byron was involved in a wreck in the Daytona Duel 1 which sent him to a backup car and meant he would start the race in the back. Aric Almirola won the first duel to secure 3rd place on the grid and Austin Dillon won the second duel to secure fourth place. The field was officially set for the 63rd running of the ‘Great American Race’.

Photo via NASCAR.COM

The threat of rain Sunday was imminent however NASCAR was able to roll the cars off the grid on time. The race was just getting started when a lap 15 caution saw 16 cars sustain damage and a major cleanup with many damaged race cars. Shortly after the wreck, a storm system moved in which saw the race go under delay for roughly six hours. Many drivers spent that time grabbing food, taking naps, and strategizing for the rest of the race. Once the cars got back rolling late at night Denny Hamlin dominated stage one and most of the cars stuck to a single-file line around the track to avoid wrecking. Stage two was much of the same with single-file racing and a crucial element was green flag pit stops. Many drivers elected to take pitstops on different laps but with the same car manufacturers which meant all the Fords, Chevys, and Toyotas pitted together when they saw fit. This became crucial because each manufacturer was coming down at different times and they needed to get back drafting right away. All the manufacturers made sure to stay close coming out of the pits so they would not lose more time to the other manufacturers. The Fords were the best at green flag pit stops because they were very organized and able to not lose much time to the Toyotas leading the pack. Denny Hamlin once again won stage 2 of the Daytona 500 which was his fourth stage win in a row dating back to last year’s Daytona 500. Coming down to the wire with 30 laps left the Fords pitted first and were able to organize back up well. This meant Denny Hamlin got shuffled to the back of the single-file train around 15th while Joey Logano paced the field.

(Photo via NASCAR on Fox)

Coming to the last lap, moves were being made to set up a pass for the win. Kevin Harvick was shuffled out of second place after a move by Brad Keselowski put him in second place behind Logano (his Penske teammate). Going into turn three Keselowski had a strong run that was blocked by Logano causing a fiery crash. Michael Mcdowell slipped past both when the caution flag flew to declare him the winner. NASCAR did not let them race back to the line so that the safety crews could get out to the track faster. If they had raced back to the line, any number of drivers would have the opportunity to win like Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, or even Kevin Harvick. In the end, Mcdowell secured his first win in his 358th NASCAR start and his first Daytona 500 victory. It will be a long season but it’s only the beginning to see who will be the 2021 NASCAR champion.

-CM



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