Michael McDowell and Austin Cindric brought home two victories for Ford Motor Co., sweeping the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity races at Daytona. McDowell, from Front Row Motorsports, won his first Daytona 500 and NASCAR Cup Series race. While Cindric captured his first Xfinity win at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night for Team Penske.
“Congratulations to Michael, Drew, Jerry, Bob and the Front Row Motorsports organization for winning the Daytona 500,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “This was such an amazing weekend of racing, to win both the Cup and Xfinity races is such a blessing. Congrats, to Austin, Brian, Roger, and Team Penske for winning the Xfinity race and marking Roush Yates Engines’ 150th NASCAR Xfinity win. I’m so proud of our entire team and our partnership with Ford Performance to power these fast Fords.” It was a story book ending for McDowell, recording the Ford Mustang’s first Daytona 500 win and his first win in his 358th career start. McDowell is the eighth driver to get his first win at Daytona.
“I just can’t believe it,” McDowell commented. “The only thing I can think of is just God is so good. For so many years I’ve just been grinding it out trying to stay in this sport. Bob Jenkins gave me a great opportunity to go full-time in a competitive car and Drew Blickensderfer and my whole entire team we’ve been working so hard for years to get into this position and I’m so thankful to Love’s Travel Stops and Speeco and Ford, Doug Yates. All of my Ford partners out there. I just can’t believe it. I’m so thankful. It’s amazing.”
The 500-mile, Great American Race all came down to the last lap. McDowell, following Ford teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, found himself in position to take the lead after Logano and Keselowski had an on-track incident in Turn 3 of the final lap. McDowell took the lead, and it became a drag race to the checkered flag with Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon. After a video tape review, McDowell was announced the official winner, beating Elliott by over a car length as the raced ended under caution.
“There’s no better way to start the season than by winning NASCAR’s biggest race,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “There aren’t many things that Mustang hasn’t achieved in its storied history, but winning the Daytona 500 was one of them and we’re excited about adding that to the list.”
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick finished P4 and Cole Custer P11, while Team Penske teammates Logano and Keselowski finished P12 and P13 respectively. Austin Cindric, in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang, brought home the first NASCAR Xfinity Series win of 2021. This marked Cindric’s first win at Daytona International Speedway, securing his position in the 2021 Playoffs to defend his 2020 Championship title.
In an overtime finish, the current NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Cindric held off a hard charging Brett Moffitt on the last lap, to take the checkered flag .104 seconds in front of Moffitt to record his ninth career win. This also marked the first Xfinity win at Daytona for team owner Roger Penske.
“What a way to kick off the season,” commented Cindric. “I’m really proud of the speed our boys brought with me in the Verizon 5G Ford Mustang. I really feel like over the no practice races we made our superspeedway cars better, so to be able to showcase that tonight makes me really proud, proud of the effort of the guys in the shop and obviously our road crew. To start off our season like this is incredible.”
Ford Performance teammates led a combined 67 laps out of the 122-lap race, led by Cindric with 28 laps and newcomer Ryan Sieg from RSS Racing with 23 laps before he was collected in an on-track incident to finish 31st. Jason White of NXT Motorsports finished tenth and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst finished 26th.
The NASCAR Series will be back at Daytona International Speedway this weekend to run the Road Course.