The biggest NASCAR race of 2021 took place on Sunday. Here were five notable storylines from the great American stockcar race.
5) The long weather delay. Only 15 laps into the race, there was a huge thunderstorm in the Florida region. As a result, there was a five-and-a-half-hour weather delay. Kevin Harvick of Bakersfield, CA, the 2007 Daytona 500 champion, was the leader at the time of the stoppage. Due to the fact that when the race resumed after 9 pm ET on Sunday night, it was not completed until well after midnight.
4) Denny Hamlin wins the first two stages. The first two stages of the race were won by Denny Hamlin of Tampa, FL. The 2019 and 2020 Daytona 500 champion was going for the three-peat, however, he struggled during the final stage of the race and finished fifth.
3) Stage component confusing for the viewer. The three-stage race component for NASCAR races were first implemented in 2017. Over time, the reviews have been mixed. I, for one, am not a fan at all.
2) Spectacular crashes. There were two gigantic crashes. The first crash involved 16 drivers–Christopher Bell, Aric Almirola, pole-sitter Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, David Ragan, Alfonso Alfredo, and Daniel Suarez. It happened right before the weather delay on the 14th lap. The second crash was on the final lap, and involved Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski.
1) First time NASCAR champion. For only the eighth time in history, the Daytona 500 champion was a driver who won his very first NASCAR race, 36-year-old Michael McDowell of Glendale, AZ. A member of the Front Row Motorsports team who started 17th on the pole, McDowell benefited from the crash on the final lap. At the time of the accident, Logano was in the lead. Remarkably, the final lap of the race was the only lap of the 200 where McDowell was in first.