Each and every NASCAR driver hopes to win the Daytona 500. The Harley J. Earl Trophy has been won by less well-known drivers rather than some of the finest drivers on numerous occasions.
Because the superspeedway has draft and pack racing, Daytona International Speedway differs from most other racetracks. Drivers with less advanced equipment now have an opportunity to contend with the best. That has thus produced some unlikely victors over the years.
Check out a few of the most significant events since the beginning of the 90s.
# 6 Jamie McMurray (2010)
Jamie McMurray completed his eighth season in 2010. But it was his first time collaborating with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Given that McMurray had two victories in his career on superspeedways, it was a little surprise to see his odds at the best NASCAR betting sites, which were +3000 (31.00). Among them was the victory in the 2007 Summer Daytona event.
McMurray lined up 13th at the start and remained there for most of the racing. In the first 50 laps, observe his running position every 10 laps:
- Lap 10: 12th
- Lap 20: 13th
- Lap 30: 20th
- Lap 40: 10th
- Lap 50: 11th
The only other occasion in the initial 170 laps the Missouri-born racer finished in among the top 10 at the conclusion of the aforementioned ten-lap increments was when he was seventh upon lap 80. McMurray then started to advance toward the front.
Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle’s battle was expected to last the final 10 laps. Kevin Harvick and McMurray went from fourth and sixth to first and second, respectively, on the second-to-last restart.
McMurray used a shove from Biffle on the final restart to grab the lead. In the first turn, Biffle passed him on the inside, but Bowyer chose to push McMurray down the backstretch. Biffle and Bowyer were separated equally by Dale Earnhardt Jr., but he was unable to reach McMurray.
Only the remaining two laps of McMurray’s fourth Cup Series victory were led by him. It also marked the beginning of his most successful season. He tied his career high with nine top-five performances and set a new one with his three race wins. In addition to winning the Daytona 500, McMurray also triumphed in the Brickyard 400.
The superspeedway competitions in some way pulled out the best of the best in McMurray. The Daytona 500 was the biggest of his seven career victories, which included four victories on this particular course.
# 5 Ryan Newman (2008)
With 12 victories in his first four NASCAR seasons, Ryan Newman had a stellar debut. He finished sixth and seventh in the rankings as a result of all four seasons. Nevertheless, Newman struggled in 2006 and 2007. He failed to win any races, and his standings position was outside the top 12. His poor performance also contributed to his beginning with (+3000) odds.
There was only one warning for debris over the first 150 laps. In the first half, Kyle Busch was the man to beat, with Ryan Newman hovering about 15th. The Indiana-born sportsman became one of the leading challengers in the second half.
At the conclusion of laps 100, 110, 120, 130, and 140, Newman was in the top five. During that stretch, he led two laps. He held the lead from lap 184 to lap 188 before giving it to Jeff Burton. On the last restart, Burton took the lead and Newman finished fourth. Newman promptly tagged along on the bumper of Tony Stewart as he took the lead.
Stewart was in front of Newman on the outside of the final lap’s backstretch, but Busch was approaching from the inside. Kurt Busch and Newman were able to seize control as Stewart blocked the bottom. It remained like that, and Newman went on to win the race, with teammate Busch coming in second.
This was Newman’s first victory on a superspeedway in his professional career. He came near a handful of more times, but as of this writing, this is his lone superspeedway triumph.
To win this race, Newman took the necessary action. In the second half, he pushed closer to the front, positioning himself to pounce when the opportunity presented itself. We believe Stewart’s dubious action gave Newman a little help, but luck plays a role in the Daytona 500.
# 4 Austin Dillon (2018)
Austin Dillon entered his fifth Cup Series season hoping to advance his career. He achieved a career-high of 11th place in the standings and won the first race of his career in 2017.
In five of his first nine outings at Daytona, the racer from North Carolina placed top ten, which is a very good record. Dillon was scheduled to start in position 14 but had to move to the back of the pack after switching to a backup vehicle.
In the first half of the race, he was not among the top competitors, but it might have been a good thing. In the first 105 laps, there were two significant crashes that claimed the lives of several top competitors. A 10-lap run to the finish was enabled by a late caution. With four laps remaining, Dillon was outside the top 10 and did not appear to be a factor.
Many contenders were eliminated with two laps remaining by a significant crash at the front, which includes Ryan Blaney, who had led 118 laps in total. Dillon restarted fourth and Denny Hamlin was in the lead as a result, setting up a green-white-checker finish. On the restart, Dillon gave Aric Almirola the lead.
Dillon trailed Almirola on the backstretch of the final lap. He pretended to go low before returning to the top. Almirola rose to block, and when they made contact, Almirola crashed into the exterior wall from the front. In order to win the Daytona 500, Dillon pulled ahead of the pack. Twenty years after a NASCAR great (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) broke through by capturing the Daytona 500, he brought the No. 3 car back to the winners’ circle.
Dillon only had the lead on the final lap. He was not one of the leading runners, but he managed to escape many significant collisions and finish first in the Daytona 500, beating the odds of +5000 (51.00).
# 3 Michael Waltrip (2001)
Michael Waltrip entered the 2001 campaign hoping to achieve his first career triumph. The racer from Kentucky’s entry into Dale Earnhardt, Inc. marked a fresh beginning for him.
Waltrip made some good drives at Daytona but was unable to challenge for the victory before the 2001 Daytona 500. In the first 100 laps, Sterling Marlin, Ward Burton, and Dale Earnhardt spent some time in the lead. Nobody, however, was able to become the favorite. Waltrip took the lead for the first time on lap 102.
No driver held the lead for longer than eight laps for more than 100 circuits, so the race remained a back-and-forth affair. Many leaders were eliminated in a significant 18-car incident on lap 175 of the race. Many of the leading contenders were off when the crash occurred at the front of the field. Waltrip took the lead in the race to avoid the collision and even then it was clear that he had a chance of emerging out from the underdog role as he was given the same odds as Dillon’s in the 2018 race.
After the restart, the lead changed a few times, but Waltrip regained it on lap 184. Marlin made a few attempts to make a run, but Waltrip was solid on the bottom. It helped that Dale Earnhardt Jr., another member of his team, was close to his bumper. Earnhardt Jr. continued to follow Waltrip, finishing third on the final lap. After a crash behind them, Waltrip and Earnhardt Jr. separated themselves as they exited turn four.
Waltrip crossed the finish line to earn his first victory of the race. Waltrip had achieved a remarkable feat, but it was marred by sadness when Dale Earnhardt lost his life in the turn three collision. Perhaps one of the most tragic events of the Daytona 500 was thought to have occurred. Waltrip could not have realized this as he basked in victory lane. His major break came from Earnhardt, who granted him a ride on his team.
# 2 Trevor Bayne (2011)
Superspeedway racing underwent a little change in era for the 2011 Daytona 500. Drivers learned they could drive far faster utilizing a two-car tandem than they could in a regular pack race.
The Cup Series driver Trevor Bayne was not your usual one. After all the +8000 (81.00) odds clearly portrayed it. In the previous Nationwide Series, the Tennessee-born guy was a full-time driver, but in 2011, he was only competing on a limited basis. Bayne made his second start of his career in the Daytona 500.
He qualified 32nd and initially lingered back, but on lap 30, he made the climb into the top five. He was fortunate to be towards the front when the field was split by a 17-car collision. Bayne remained below the top 10 for the following 70 laps. Bayne routinely placed in the top 10 throughout the second half of the race.
- Lap 100: 7th
- Lap 110: 7th
- Lap 120: 8th
- Lap 130: 2nd
- Lap 140: 6th
- Lap 150: 8th
Being accident-free in this Daytona 500 was an accomplishment because there was a caution every seven to eight laps or so. With two laps remaining, a caution with four laps remaining prompted a restart. Bayne was running second, while David Ragan was in the lead. Ragan squatted down in front of Bayne during the restart. The only issue was that he executed that maneuver before to the start/finish line.
Ragan’s chances of winning were ended when NASCAR black-flagged him. The last restart, with Bayne in the lead, was preceded by another warning. On the last lap, Carl Edwards attempted to overtake Bayne, but Bayne held him off to win the Daytona 500. At age 20, he won the Daytona 500 and set a new record.
Although Bayne did not accomplish much during his Cup Series career, this triumph will undoubtedly live in the memory of everyone.
# 1 Michael McDowell (2021)
In his 14th season, Michael McDowell entered the 2021 season seeking his first victory. For many years, he was known to everyone as the driver that overturned one of the greatest NASCAR incidents in Texas.
Many top competitors, including Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, and Aric Almirola, were eliminated in a 16-car collision on lap 14. McDowell was enough back to miss the major collision. From then, there was not much action because everyone wanted to end with a spotless car. McDowell advanced to the top 10 and took seventh place in Stage 2.
The drivers ran single-file during the last stage, which was essentially caution-free. Prior to the green-flag pit stops with 30 laps remaining, McDowell was in 15th. Prior to the white flag, Brad Keselowski and McDowell advanced to second and third, respectively. Keselowski shifted to the bottom entering turn three in an effort to overtake Joey Logano. When McDowell and Keselowski came into touch, Keselowski changed into Logano.
The significant accident made room for McDowell. The Arizona-born racer survived the collision and took home the Daytona 500 victory. In his 358th start, McDowell earned his first Cup Series triumph, beating the odds of +10000 (101.00)!
McDowell consistently performed well on the superspeedway, finishing in the top 10 five times at Daytona. By winning the 2021 Daytona 500, he received some satisfaction. Like Jamie McMurray in 2010, this victory served as the catalyst for a successful season. In addition to setting new career highs in the top 10, average finish, and point standings, McDowell also tied his previous record for top-five finishes.
All above demonstrates how far a driver can advance after winning the Daytona 500.
There is a fair likelihood that we will not go a few years without an unforeseen victor given the state of superspeedway racing, awakening the interest in NASCAR enthusiasts to try to find a new underdog at betting sites in Namibia with this race in the offer to earn some unexpected profit…