A veteran NASCAR driver honored God in an upset 2021 Daytona 500 victory.
Michael McDowell, who never won in any of his previous 357 races but only got four top-five finishes in his 13 Cup Series seasons, emerged as the champion of this year's Great American Race. McDowell was overwhelmed of his win himself but knew that it was God who helped him win, the Sports Spectrum reported.
"I just can't believe it. I've just got to thank God. So many years just grinding it out and hoping for an opportunity like this," he said.
— Michael McDowell (@Mc_Driver) February 15, 2021
The New York Times also wrote about his surprise over his win and he was quoted as saying, "We're a Daytona 500 champion. I cannot believe this."
Driving the no. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, his car survived the first crash on lap 15, as well as the final lap when the two cars on the lead collided and left McDowell heading to victory lane.
In a press conference, McDowell was reportedly asked if his win matches the dream.
McDowell replied, "It does, but whether I win this race or not, it's not what defines you. It's unbelievable and I'm so thankful, but I'm thankful to have a happy, healthy family and a beautiful wife and a great family. Not everybody makes it to victory lane and for 14 years I didn't, so just to be here now is just so amazing."
Joey Logano, who led the race on the final lap but only collided with his teammate Brad Keselowski, was upset for not winning the title but said that he is glad for McDowell.
"I feel like we had a great shot being where we were and leading on the last lap, but if we couldn't win I'm really happy to see McDowell win this thing. He's a great guy, a great person, a good leader in life and has helped me a lot in my life, so it's very cool to see him win the Daytona 500," Logano stated.
The win qualifies McDowell for the NASCAR Playoffs. He said that his success is a reward for his hard work for many years.
"There's been lots of years where I was wondering what the heck am I doing and why am I doing it? I always knew if I just kept grinding that one day everything will line up and go right," he said.
In his 2019 interview, he spoke about his faith in God and his desire to share the gospel to others.
"I'm passionate about people coming to know Christ. Part of that is just a realization that you're either alive in Christ or you're dead. There's no in-between," McDowell stated.
His racing mentors introduced Christianity to him and he said that it was different from anything he had previously encountered. God revealed the essence of his racing platform after his accident at the 2008 Samsung 500, but walked away unharmed.
He said that when he fully surrendered his life to Jesus, he realized that he likes to talk to people. With it, he aims to do a couple of things - "to glorify God" and "to lead people to Christ".
McDowell is set to compete again on Feb. 21 for Daytona's O'Reilly Auto Parts 253.