Daytona 500: Michael McDowell Wins NASCAR's Season-Opening Cup Series Race

Sunday night, the Daytona 500 came to an end after 500 miles of intense racing action. The race [...]

Sunday night, the Daytona 500 came to an end after 500 miles of intense racing action. The race started just after 3 p.m. ET but ended after midnight due to wrecks and delays. Ultimately, a massive collision on the final lap determined the winner as Michael McDowell pulled to the front of the pack as the caution flag came out.

The accident occurred on Turn 3 of the final lap. McDowell tapped Brad Keselowski from behind and sent the No. 2 Ford Mustang into the back of Joey Logano's No. 22 Ford Mustang. Both Team Penske drivers spun out as Logano went into the grass. Keselowski hit the wall, and Kyle Busch hit him at full speed, sparking a massive fireball. Several other drivers were caught up in the crash as NASCAR officials waved the caution flag. When this moment occurred, McDowell was leading and became the winner.

The race also started in wild fashion considering that the first caution came out less than five laps into the action. Bubba Wallace and Derricke Cope collided on the track, but neither sustained major damage. The drivers got back into action in short order and continued competing for spots at the front of the pack, though the proverbial "big one" occurred minutes later.

A massive wreck disrupted the race on Lap 14 and involved 16 drivers. Kyle Busch, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, gave teammate Christopher Bell a push from behind. The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry then hit Aric Almirola's No. 10 Ford Mustang from behind and sent him sideways. This collision kicked off a chain reaction that collected several cars and sent them into the wall or into the dirt.

Following the massive wreck, the drivers received the news that the race would come to a halt due to inclement weather. Lightning struck within three miles of the track and brought out the red flag. The skies then opened and heavy rain began to fall, forcing the teams to cover the cars and the drivers to seek shelter.

The rain continued throughout the afternoon and into the night. There were questions about whether the drivers would return to their cars at all on Sunday or if they would move the race to Monday. However, the skies cleared and the drivers returned to the track just before 9 p.m. ET. The red flag delay ultimately lasted five hours and 40 minutes.

When the drivers got behind the wheels of their respective cars, they did so in smaller numbers. The wreck on Lap 14 forced many out of the race. The list included Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, and several others. Though the number increased to 12 due to another wreck later in the race that ruined Quin Houff's night.

Wrecks and mechanical issues continued to disrupt several drivers, but there were a few that performed consistently all night long. Denny Hamlin, Wallace, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Austin Dillon all fought for the lead at various points. Ultimately, McDowell defeated them all and finished the night in Victory Lane.