BY KEITH WALTZ
Michael McDowell, a 36-year-old journeyman racer from Glendale, Arizona, recorded one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR Cup Series history on Feb. 14 of this year when he emerged from a last-lap, multi-car wreck to win the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Driving the No. 34 Ford Mustang fielded by Front Row Motorsports, McDowell registered his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in his 358th career start.
“My plan was to stick to the 2 (Brad Keselowski) car. I knew he would go for a race-winning move and my plan was to let him make that move and then coming off of four try to get to his outside or inside,” McDowell explained. “I knew I didn’t want to make my move too early, so I was committed to the 2 car’s bumper and when he made the move, the hole opened up. It’s just unbelievable.”
McDowell was running third heading into Turn 3 on the final lap of the sport’s premier event when Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski tangled at the front of the pack. The ensuing multi-car accident resulted in NASCAR throwing the caution flag and after a video review officials declared McDowell the winner.
“I just can’t believe it. I’ve just got to thank God,” McDowell said in Victory Lane. “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. Are you kidding me?”
It was the third NASCAR Cup Series for Front Row Motorsports, which is owned by Bob Jenkins.