DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Front Row Motorsports Michael McDowell avoided a last lap crash to win the 63rd running of the Daytona 500. The victory was the first for McDowell in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“1st career win at the Daytona 500, can you believe it,” exclaimed McDowell on the front stretch after climbing from the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang. “So many years grinding it out, I’m so thankful. Such a great way to get a first victory, at the Daytona 500, are you kidding me?”.
McDowell was trailing the Ford’s of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski on the final lap as the field entered turn three, where Logano tried the block the run of Keselowski who attempted to go to the low side, triggering a multi-car crash.
“We had our Ford partners lined up there at the end and they all crashed,” said McDowell. “Luckily I was able to make it through.”
“I had a big run down the backstretch and went to make the pass to win the Daytona 500 and it ended up really bad,” said Keselowski. “I don’t feel I made a mistake but I can’t drive everybody else’s car. I had a run, I made a move. It didn’t work out.”
“He (Keselowski) backed up to the 34 (McDowell) and had a really big run coming at me and it seemed like we all just collided at one spot,” said Logano.
NASCAR had to review their digital scoring loops as well as video evidence before declaring McDowell the winner because Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott, who was running fourth, also escaped the mayhem and appeared to pass McDowell but the caution flag had already been thrown.
“I don’t think it was very close,” said Elliott about whether he was ahead of McDowell when the caution came out. “I kind of got next to him and I saw the (caution) lights came on and I knew it was over. I felt like we had a fast car. We stayed out of trouble, which is not something I have done a good job of here in this race, so we at least finished this one. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon finished third followed by Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5.
The race featured 22 lead changes among 13-drivers and was slowed by 7-caution flags for 40-laps and a red flag weather delay of 5-hours, 40-minutes.
Martin Truex Jr. leads Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3 at Richmond
RICHMOND, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr. overcame a first lap penalty for jumping the start of the race and came back to win Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway.
Truex beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell for the win, which automatically advances Truex to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs that begins in two weeks at Las Vegas.
“I let the 11 (Hamlin) get a nose out in front of me to get the launch first,” explained Truex about the start of the race. “I wasn’t going to jump him, and then he spun the tires and stopped. What am I supposed to do, stand on the brakes and crash the field behind me?”
Fortunately Truex didn’t crash the field behind him but he was sent to pit road to serve the penalty, which left him the last car in the field.
Hamlin, who led a race-high 197-laps, held on for second place and is also locked into the Round of 12 after his win last weekend at Darlington.
“The whole JGR team had fast cars for all of us today. I really wish we had gotten two in a row, but regardless still a great day for the team,” Hamlin said.
Chase Elliott rallied for a fourth place finish after having losing a lap after trouble in the pits.
A rough pit stop for the No. 9 team of Chase Elliott.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2021
Joey Logano finished fifth with Kyle Larson in sixth. Larson is also locked into the Round of 12 on points.
Four playoff drivers head into Bristol outside of the Top 12 and need to either win or score a ton of points in order to advance.
Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman sits in 12th spot after a 12th place finish at Richmond. Bowman is tied in points with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch but Busch wins the tiebreaker by having the best finish in the round. Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Michael McDowell are also on the outside looking in.
Busch was having a great run and even came off pit road in the lead following the competition caution on lap 32 but disaster struck on lap 42.
Kurt Busch is done for the night.
The #NASCARPlayoffs driver has a flat tire and hits the Turn 1 wall.
TV: NBCSN pic.twitter.com/eh0ZsyFlqn
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2021
“Something happened in that left rear,” explained Busch. “It let go and it let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now.”
Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona; Larson top playoff seed
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his second straight NASCAR Cup Series victory winning Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Blaney was out front on the last lap when a multi-car crash occurred in the last turn during NASCAR overtime to seal the victory for the driver and No. 12 Ford Mustang crew.
“Cool to get our second win in a row,” said Blaney. “Got a great push by Corey LaJoie. That was the big push that got us ahead to the lead. I think he pushed me so good, I mean, me, Corey and the 4 all got single file. We were able to be ahead there when that last wreck on the backstretch happened.”
LaJoie was one of nine-cars involved in that Turn 3 crash on the final lap. Four of the drivers, Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez and LaJoie, needed a victory to qualify for the Playoffs.
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick earned the 16th Playoff position, beating out teammate Austin Dillon for the final spot.
Kyle Larson claimed NASCAR’s regular season title based on the strength of his series-leading five victories in 2021.
The back-to-back victories moved Blaney into the second spot in the Playoffs followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch in third and fourth.
2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is fifth followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman in sixth. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is seventh and William Byron is eighth. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski round out the Top 10.
The final six playoff seeds include Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, JGR’s Christopher Bell, this year’s Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Reddick and former Cup Champ Kevin Harvick.
Blaney Grabs Win At Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney led the final eight laps to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Blaney took the lead on a restart to pick up his second win of the year and sixth of his career.
“Man, I’m proud of everybody on the 12 team,” said Blaney. “We weren’t great to start the day off. We kept working and working and got a lot better. It’s so cool to get in Victory Lane for Ford here. This is such a huge win for Ford, Penske, Menards, Cardell, Bodyarmor. I can’t thank them enough, what they do. That was cool, man. I’m fired up. I’m fired up.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished second and third followed by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch in fourth.
“I had points on my mind a little bit too much,” said Larson. I’m looking in my mirror. I saw the 11 (Denny Hamlin) falling back some. I just didn’t want to screw it up really. I felt like I had to weigh the risk versus reward. I could risk going for the win, not having it work out, end up 30 something and lose the point lead going into Daytona or I could be a little bit more cautious, beat Denny by a couple spots, which is what we did.”
Hamlin finished fifth and trails Larson by 28-points going into NASCAR’s regular season finale, the Coke Zero 400, Saturday August 28th at 7:00 p.m. at Daytona International Speedway.