In what proved to be a marathon Sunday, the Daytona 500 had a little something for everyone, including crashes, fast food and a lot of waiting.
A 100-1 underdog when the race began Sunday afternoon, Michael McDowell won for the first time in 358 Cup starts when the checkered flag finally flew about 15 minutes after midnight. The race was stopped by rain for almost six hours and ended nine hours after the green flag waved at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” usually doesn’t occur too early on in the 200-lap, 500-mile race.
But on lap 14, one small move triggered a huge wreck, and several cars were collected in it with a few shooting through the soggy grass of the infield.
Nearly half the field was involved in the 16-car pile up.
In addition to Almirola and Bowman, other drivers involved included Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto, Daniel Suárez, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher and David Ragan.
On the last lap, Brad Keselowski had a huge run on Team Penkse teammate and race leader Joey Logano about a mile from the finish line. Keselowski tried to pass Logano on the low side, but Logano blocked him and ended up crashing both of them.
Kyle Busch slammed into the side of Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford, sending it spinning and hitting the wall again. Austin Cindric plowed into both, creating a brief explosion and fire. Each driver escaped unscathed.
NASCAR Cup Series rookie Chase Briscoe couldn’t wait to eat. The driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford made a trip to Panda Express during the rain delay.
Ross Chastain made his way to a local McDonald’s, pulling up the Drive-Thru – still in his full firesuit – in order to get a meal for his crew.
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.