Cup Series

Daytona 500 2021: Top moments, highlights, crashes

February 15

The Big One struck early in the 2021 Daytona 500. Then, inclement weather forced the cars off the tracks for several hours.

Finally, with the checkered flag up for grabs, the 63rd annual Great American Race ended in chaos. Michael McDowell emerged with his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory amid a fiery, final-lap wreck from which everyone walked away.

Along the way, there was plenty of action both on and off the track. Here are the biggest moments from Sunday's Daytona 500.

Pitbull fires things up

Mr. Worldwide is new to the NASCAR ownership scene, having joined the Trackhouse Racing Team in January.

Named this year's grand marshal for the Daytona 500, the Grammy winner revved things up in true Pitbull fashion.

"The Boss" drops the green flag

WWE star Sasha Banks knows what it takes to be a champion.

The SmackDown women's champ dropped the green flag on Sunday, signaling the start of the 500-mile race.

Honoring "The Intimidator"

NASCAR paid tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr., who tragically died 20 years ago at Daytona. Fans and the Richard Childress Racing crew held up three fingers on the third lap in honor of Senior's No. 3 car.

The Big One arrives early

That last-lap collision wasn't the only big wreck on Sunday.

After a push from teammate Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell appeared to get into the rear end of Aric Almirola, sending the No. 10 into Alex Bowman and setting off a chain reaction of wrecks on Lap 14.

Here's another look at the pileup, which involved 16 cars.

Giving the race a spark

NASCAR flew a red flag shortly after the Lap 14 crash, citing lightning strikes in the area. Then the skies opened up, and Mother Nature soaked the speedway.

After a rain delay of several hours, racing resumed at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET – and so did the chaos.

First, William Byron lost one of his rear quarter panels due to damage he sustained in that crash on Lap 14 ...

... then sparks flew thanks to another collision.

One step closer to history

Denny Hamlin was trying to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win three consecutive Daytona 500 titles, and claiming Stage 1 on Sunday didn't hurt.

Fire in the hole!

Kaz Grala secured his racing team's first lap led early in the Daytona 500, but that was before his right rear tire caught on fire.

All the world's a stage

Hamlin continued his race toward history by just beating Bubba Wallace for the Stage 2 win.

In Stage 3, Hamlin came up with a big save, avoiding sending his No. 11 into the wall.

Unfortunately for Hamlin, it wasn't enough, as he finished fifth amid the race-ending collision.

Wallace's plans go awry

Speaking of Wallace, he was in contention late before an unscheduled pit stop all but ended his night.

McDowell finally gets his W

Three hundred fifty-eight career starts.

That's how many it took for Michael McDowell, who was a 66-to-1 long shot at FOX Bet, to earn his first Cup Series win.

Although it came amid a spectacular wreck, the 36-year-old was overjoyed after the race.

Not quite as pleased was Brad Keselowski, who was running second behind Joey Logano prior to the last-lap carnage.

Keselowski's contact with Logano ignited the larger wreck, but the driver of the No. 2 didn't feel like he was necessarily to blame.

Keselowski's smashed car was quite the sight to behold.

As for Logano? He would have loved the win, but he was happy for McDowell.

For more from the 2021 Daytona 500, check out the FOX Sports Daytona 500 Watch Party!


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