DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Michael McDowell brought his No. 34 Ford home in fifth place in Sunday’s 61st annual Daytona 500. It was a great finish for his Front Row Motorsports team. Joey Logano would finish one spot ahead in his No. 22 Ford.
It was Logano’s fifth straight top six finish in the Great American Race. Instead of both Ford drivers being happy with top five finishes in the season opener for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, both were perturbed with one another.
Logano, thought that McDowell should have helped more for the duo to get past Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Instead, McDowell helped Hamlin get the win and left the duo fading one spot each when Erik Jones skated by.
That’s why Logano confronted McDowell on pit lane following the second longest race in Daytona 500 history in front of a capacity crowd of 101,000.
“I was just surprised by the situation and what happened,” said Logano, after the race. “I thought that was going to be the plan, I would’ve thought. It’s part of it. He’s racing, too, I guess. We can’t win these things alone.”
McDowell bristled at that suggestion, saying the final lap was every driver for himself.
“I just told him that my team doesn’t pay me to push Joey Logano to a win,” said the Arizona native. “That’s not what I get paid to do. At 200 miles an hour I made a split-second decision on what was the fastest car and who had the best shot of winning the race and that’s where I went.”
McDowell survived the late-race chaos and emerged as a contender after an eventful final stretch, which trickled over the scheduled distance into overtime. Before the final restart, McDowell was chopped by Clint Bowyer’s No. 14, triggering a nine-car pileup the sent the race to a second OT.
“The Bowyer wreck’s all his fault,” said McDowell. “He flat-out tried to shift me out and then cleared himself, and he wasn’t clear. That’s what’s so frustrating. You’ve got guys that are like, ‘Hey, why didn’t you go with me?’ Well, because every time I’m in the front, you shook me out, and so what makes you think I’m going to push you to a win when you leave me high and dry the whole entire day?”