Who won the Daytona 500? Full results, winner from NASCAR’s 2021 season-opening race

By | February 14, 2021

The winner of the 2021 Daytona 500 wasn’t in the lead until the very end of the race, after a fiery crash up front on the final lap opened a path for him to drive through.

Michael McDowell, who was tracking leaders Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski on Lap 200 of the 200-lap race, inherited the lead after Logano and Keselowski wrecked and NASCAR put out the caution flag that ended the race. McDowell was ahead of Chase Elliott by a car length. He then he crossed the start-finish line first for good measure after securing his first Cup Series victory.

The wild finish early Monday capped a marathon day that was bracketed by big wrecks early and late. 

Mother Nature grudgingly allowed NASCAR Cup Series drivers to kick off a new season. Inclement weather loomed over the 500 on Sunday, and then rain over Daytona Beach, Fla., caused almost six hours of delays.

Sporting News tracked live updates and lap-by-lap highlights from the Daytona 500. Follow below for complete results from NASCAR’s 2021 season-opening race.

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Daytona 500 results 2021


Pos. Driver
1. Michael McDowell
2. Chase Elliott
3. Austin Dillon
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Ryan Preece
7. Ross Chastain
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Corey LaJoie
10. Kyle Larson
11. Cole Custer
12. Joey Logano
13. Brad Keselowski
14. Kyle Busch
15. Austin Cindric
16. Christopher Bell
17. Bubba Wallace
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19. Chase Briscoe
20. Joey Gase
21. Cody Ware
22. Kurt Busch
23. BJ McLeod
24. Josh Bilicki
25. Martin Truex Jr.
26. William Byron
27. Tyler Reddick
28. Kaz Grala
29. Quin Houff
30. Ryan Blaney
31. Chris Buescher
32. Anthony Alfredo
33. Matt DiBenedetto
34. Aric Almirola
35. Alex Bowman
36. Daniel Suarez
37. David Ragan
38. Ryan Newman
39. Erik Jones
40. Derrike Cope

Daytona 500 live updates, highlights from 2021 race

(All times Eastern)

12:16 a.m.  — Huge, fiery crash on the last lap takes out leaders Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski and opens it up for Michael McDowell to win NASCAR’s premier event under caution. 

12:10 a.m.  — Down to 10 laps remaining. It’s go time.

Midnight  — Unscheduled green-flag stop for Bubba Wallace; Fox Sports reports he told his crew his car had a vibration. Right-side tires for the 23, who goes a lap down.

11:55 p.m. — The final green-flag stops of the night begin on Lap 170, with each manufacturer group pitting separately.

11:45 p.m.  — The calm before the storm. Denny Hamlin still leads the way, and everyone else is lined up behind him.

11:35 p.m. — Denny Hamlin leads with 52 to go. The field is running single file on the high side before the serious racing begins. 

11:20 p.m.  — Denny Hamlin wins Stage 2 of the Daytona 500, building on his Stage 1 victory. The top 10 in the stage: Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Bubba Wallace, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Preece and Austin Cindric.

Just 70 laps remain in this year’s Great American Race. It’s about to get wild. 

11:05 p.m.  — Scary-looking moment as the right rear of Kaz Grala’s car catches fire on pit road. Safety crews are there to extinguish it. Grala was one of the drivers involved in the wreck that Bell triggered. Amazingly, Grala tried to keep racing before being told to call it quits for the night. 

11 p.m.  — CAUTION NO. 5. Christopher Bell causes a multi-vehicle wreck as his left rear tire goes down. Kyle Larson is one of the half-dozen drivers caught up in it. Bubba Wallace escapes and is scored in second at the time of the yellow.

10:55 p.m.  — Kyle Larson is the leader after all the pit stops. Fewer than 20 laps to go in Stage 2.

10:45 p.m.  — Green-flag pit stops are near in the second half of Stage 2. (Oh, by the way, the race is now official after moving past Lap 100.)

10:30 p.m. — The worst of the rain appears to be behind us, but there are some concerns about fog.

10:10 p.m. — Denny Hamlin takes Stage 1 of the Daytona 500. The rest of the top 10:

9:55 p.m. — OK, switching out yellow for green. Can we please be careful, guys?

9:45 p.m. — And the yellow flag is back on Lap 38. Quin Houff is out of the race.

9:35 p.m. — Green flag is waving. We are a full go on Lap 30.

9:20 p.m. — Well, this seems problematic. Still under a yellow flag at the moment.

9:05 p.m. — A quick recap of where we stand as the restart approaches:

8:20 p.m. — Hey, a restart time! This might actually happen.

7:55 p.m. —  Trending in the right direction…

6:50 p.m. — The Air Titans are back on the track, but NASCAR has not offered any additional details on a possible restart time.

6:20 p.m. —  Good news: There could be a window to dry the track in between waves of rain. Bad news: That second wave could be ugly.

5:15 p.m. — OK, this rain really needs to chill out for a minute.

4:55 p.m. — Chase Briscoe just hitting the Panda Express drive-thru during the delay. A real power move.

4:10 p.m. — So, uh, this isn’t ideal.

3:55 p.m. — After just 15 laps, the Air Titans are out with the Daytona 500 under a red flag. Kevin Harvick is the current leader.

3:40 p.m. — Here’s a full list of the drivers involved in the crash on Lap 14, per the FOX broadcast: Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, David Ragan, Anthony Alfredo, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Jamie McMurray and Daniel Suarez. 

3:35 p.m. — And now a red flag because of a lighting strike. What a wild start.

3:25 p.m. — Whoa. We’ve got huge crash involving at least a dozen cars.

3:10 p.m. —  The caution flag goes up after Derrike Cope hits the wall on Lap 3. He’s done for the day.

3 p.m. — A new season. Daytona 500. Pitbull. Here we go.

2:40 p.m. — Let’s hope those rain clouds float right on by the track.

What time does the Daytona 500 start?

The Daytona 500 broadcast will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 14, but the race itself may not start until closer to 3 p.m. ET. It will be held at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

MORE:  Remembering Dale Earnhardt’s deadly crash at Daytona 20 years later

Daytona 500 starting lineup 2021

Wednesday’s pole qualifying set the front row for the Daytona 500 with Alex Bowman earning the nod and William Byron recording the second-fastest lap. The results of Thursday’s Duels races won by Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon set the remainder of the field. 

Starting pos. Driver
1. Alex Bowman
2. William Byron
3. Aric Almirola
4. Austin Dillon
5. Christopher Bell
6. Bubba Wallace
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Joey Logano
10. Kyle Busch
11. Ryan Preece
12. Chase Elliott
13. Kyle Larson
14. David Ragan
15. Daniel Suarez
16. Corey LaJoie
17. Michael McDowell
18. David Regan
19. Jamie McMurray
20. Kurt Busch
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Chris Buescher
23. Matt DiBenedetto
24. Brad Keselowski
25. Denny Hamlin
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Cole Custer
28. Joey Gase
29. Tyler Reddick
30. Chase Briscoe
31. Erik Jones
32. Derrike Cope
33. Quin Houff
34. Ross Chastain
35. Cody Ware
36. Anthony Alfredo
37. Josh Bilicki
38. BJ McLeod
39. Austin Cindric
40. Kaz Grala