Sometimes you just have to tear up a script and have a surprise ending and for those fans who stuck with the Daytona 500 through almost a six hour rain delay that is exactly what they got.
There was nothing that took place in the race that prepared you for the last half lap of the race as it was business as usual at Daytona.
The race was playing out as most fans imagined but this time when the dust settled from the last wreck of the day it was Michael McDowell in the lead when the final caution flag came out to end the race.
Racing at Daytona seems to have a script that is followed every February and it is one that fans now have memorized as far as the strategy that is used during the race.
Team orders and manufacturer orders are the same and that is for every driver in the same make of car to do everything possible to help their teammate. Sunday’s race was a classic example of what happens when a team follows the game plan as the last pit stop by the Ford teams was a textbook example of how to get on and off pit road.
All of the Fords came back on the track together and quickly got their momentum back up but the same can’t be said about the Chevrolet or Toyota teams. All of the lead Chevrolet teams came down on pit road together but each team seemed to be on a different strategy as some just took gas while others opted for tires.
When the teams got back on the track they were staggered and lost ground to the Fords before they could get regrouped together.
The Toyotas were at a disadvantage before they came down pit road as they only had five cars to start the race and by the time they pitted there were only four together and they too were staggered coming back on to the track which put them behind both the Ford and Chevrolet teams.
The closing laps of the race saw the Ford camp running up front as Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were running first and second with McDowell in third.
The end of the race was about a mile away when Keselowski had a big run on his teammate Logano but when Keselowski got to his bumper the contact sent both drivers spinning giving McDowell the opening he had dreamed about all of his 14 year career to capture his first ever checkered flag.
It became a race between him and Chase Elliott but when the NASCAR threw the caution flag, McDowell had about a car length lead over last season’s title holder. The win was the third for Front Row Motorsports and its owner Bob Jenkins as David Ragan won on Daytona’s sister track at Talladega Superspeedway in May of 2013. Chris Buescher also took Front Row to victory lane at Pocono Raceway in 2016.
McDowell has been with Front Row Motorsports since 2018 and with the win Sunday in the 500, he has punched his ticket into the Playoff field of 16 drivers that will NASCAR for HD Media.it will attract other potential owners outside of the sport to invest in a team and bring in advance with the opportunity to run for the title over the last ten race of the season. PIT
NOTES: Much of the media build up leading to the Daytona 500 centered on the two new owners that were coming into the sport. Michael Jordan who joined Denny Hamlin in forming 23XI Racing and Justin Marks teaming up with Pitbull to form Trackhouse Racing. Jordan’s driver Bubba Wallace and Trackhouse’s Daniel Suarez are both series veterans but the addition of two celebrity owners has put some pressure on both to have on track success. If these two owners succeed, the line of thought is that a new demographic of fan.