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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 14: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, crosses the finish line to win during the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 14: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, crosses the finish line to win during the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Michael McDowell Daytona 500 post-race winner’s interview

Comments from Daytona 500 race winner Michael McDowell immediately following the race:

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang — “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.  I’ve got to thank Love’s Travel Stops, Speedco, Bob Jenkins for giving me this opportunity.  I’m so thankful.  Such a great way to get a first victory — a Daytona 500.  Are you kidding me?  I just want to say hi to my wife back home.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  I know it’s been a tough week.  My kids, I love you guys.  I wish they could be here with me to celebrate.  Maybe NASCAR will send a plane to bring them down here, but we’re the Daytona 500 champions.  Thank you Doug Yates, Ford.  We had our Ford partners at the end and they all crashed, but luckily I was able to make it through.  I’m just so thankful.  God is good.”

YOUR THOUGHTS?  “I just can’t believe it.  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, we had a good plan coming to the white and unfortunately Joey and Brad got together and the hole opened up.  I just can’t believe it.  I’m so thankful.  It’s amazing.”

HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE LAST PIT STOP?  “It was the race.  We knew it was and it always comes down to that green flag stop.  If you speed, you make a mistake, you slide the tires, your day is done.  We just executed perfectly.  We left together.  Brad and I left together hooked up on bumpers and we were able to get some good speed and when the Toyotas and Chevys joined the track we had so much momentum we were able to keep the lead.  It’s unbelievable.  I just can’t believe I won the Daytona 500.  This is amazing.”

DRIVE US DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH.  YOU WERE THIRD.  “My plan was to stick to the 2 car.  I knew he would go for a race-winning move and my plan was to let him make that move and then coming off of four try to get to his outside or inside.  I knew I didn’t want to make my move too early, so I was committed to the 2 car’s bumper and when he made the move, the hole opened up.  It’s just unbelievable.”

DOES THIS MATCH THE DREAM?  “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.”

— Ford Performance —