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Davidson: McDowell wins a rain-delayed Daytona 500

Daytona Beach, FL, Feb 14/21 (by John Davidson): Michael McDowell may not have had the fastest Ford at the track, he may not have been driving for the biggest team, but he had the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford in the right spot when the second major crash of the race wiped out a lot of the lead pack as he ran third and gained the lead when a push of second place Brad Keselowski went bad, triggering a second multi-car crash when Keselowski's car sent Joey Logano's spinning into the wall and trapping the outside line leading to a second massive crash.

"I just can't believe it," McDowell said. "I've just got to thank God. So many years just grinding it out and hoping for an opportunity like this.

"I'm so thankful. Such a great way to get a first victory -- a Daytona 500. My kids, I love you guys. I wish they could be here with me to celebrate. Maybe NASCAR will send a plane to bring them down here, but we're the Daytona 500 champions."

Keselowski's No. 2 Ford got hit hard by Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota, sending it flying into the top of the SAFER barrier before it slid down the track.

The race was only 13 laps old when a 16-car crash in the fourth turn resulted in about a dozen cars getting knocked out of the race and several more suffering damage. Florida's rainy weather caused a red flag that lasted for five hours and forty minutes before the caution from this wreck had even started well. McDowell's car suffered superficial damage in the melee but the Drew Blickensdorfer-led team patched it up and kept him in position to run in the top and eventually win.

Denny Hamlin, looking for his third consecutive win at the Daytona season opener, was classed as fifth at the finish, behind McDowell, reigning champion Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick.

• Click HERE for the race results

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