Michael McDowell stormed through a crash scene to win the Daytona 500, snapping an 0-for-357 streak with a fiery pileup in his rearview mirror.
McDowell led just the final lap — maybe half of it, really — when Brad Keselowski turned teammate Joey Logano as the Team Penske drivers jockeyed for the victory.
McDowell stayed flat in the gas and plowed past the two spinning cars to the lead, then won a three-wide drag race until NASCAR threw a race-ending caution.
McDowell, a 36-year-old journeyman from Arizona, was a 100-1 underdog at the start of the race and seemed in disbelief after taking his first checkered flag.
“So many years just grinding it out hoping for an opportunity like this,” McDowell said. “We’re the Daytona 500 champions. I cannot believe this. Luckily was able to make it through.”
Hamlin and Harvick had the two best cars but pit strategy ended Hamlin’s shot at winning a record third-consecutive Daytona 500.
Reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott finished second and 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon was third. Harvick finished fourth, and Hamlin was fifth after leading a race-high 98 laps.