by Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor
(NASCAR)—Michael McDowell finally wins a NASCAR Cup race in his 358th start—and he picks the NASCAR’s biggest race to do it.
McDowell drove between the two leaders of the Daytona 500 as they crashed on the final lap of the rain-delayed race to finish ahead of last year’s series champion Chase Elliott. McDowell, driving for one of the most prominent small-budget teams in the sport, had only three previous top-five finishes in his dozen years as a fulltime driver in the series.
The race was red-flagged after a crash on the fifteenth lap took out more than one-fourth of the forty-car field.
The car of Joplin driver Jamie McMurray, who came out of retirement to drive the 77 Spire Motorsports car (far right), was damaged during the crash but was repaired by his pit crew, ran near the top ten most of the night and made it through the final-lap carnage. McMurray finished eighth, his best finish in the 500 since he won it in 2010.
McDowell Drives for Front Row Motorsports, which picked up its third win in 1079 races since owner Bob Jenkins fielded his first Cup car in 2005. David Ragan won at Talladega in 2014 and Chris Buescher won his only Cup race, so far, when rain shortened a race at Pocono in 2016.
Rain stopped the race after the first big crash for more than four hours. McDowell took the checkered flag shortly before midnight, CST.
McMurray goes back to the FOX broadcast booth next weekend. McDowell returns to Daytona next weekend to race on the road course.
(INDYCAR)—The latest Formula 1 veteran to move to the INDYCAR series is Romain Grosjean, He has spent the last five years driving for the American Hass team backed by Gene Haas, who also partners with Tony Stewart in NASCAR. He’ll drive the full season for Dale Coyne Racing.
His F1 career ended last year when his car was torn in half and burst into flames at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Although surrounded by fire, he unbuckled and climbed out of the cockpit and made it out of the flames with only second degree burns on his hands.
IndyCar opens its season April 18th at Barber Motorsports Park.
(FORMULA 1)—Two time champion Fernando Alonso is recovering after surgery to fix his broken jaw, an injury incurred while bicycling. The accident happened in Switzerland, where Alonso was training for the season with Alpine, his new team. Police say he and his bicycle collided with a car that was turning right into a shopping center.
Seven-time and defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one-year contract with Mercedes as he seeks to break tie with Michael Schumacher and win championship Number Eight.
Formula 1 starts its season March 28 with the Grand Prix of Bahrain.