A day after one of the biggest upsets in the history of the DAYTONA 500, Michael McDowell and his team were honored Monday at Daytona International Speedway during a “Champion’s Celebration” inside the track’s Victory Lane, being awarded traditional gifts only awarded to DAYTONA 500 Champions!
McDowell, the Front Row Motorsports driver who picked up his first career victory, in the 63rd Annual event, along with veteran crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, were joined by Ben Kennedy, NASCAR Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, and Speedway President Chip Wile just hours after the checkered flag. Front Row team owner Bob Jenkins was not able to attend the ceremonies.
The trio of McDowell, Blickensderfer and Jenkins received customary 2021 DAYTONA 500 Champion rings and 2021 black leather jackets while a special Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona was presented to McDowell as the Champion driver.
Blickensderfer was awarded the Cannonball Baker (long-time NASCAR Commissioner) Trophy as the Champion crew chief, and the unique Harley J. Earl Trophy for the Champion car owner, was on display.
“It’s just a monumental accomplish to be a DAYTONA 500 Champion, and all the things that come with it for our race team and our partners,” said McDowell. “It’s hard to really fathom…It hasn’t completely sunk in yet. When I came out this morning and the sun was up, the No. 34 was still on top of the scoreboard. It’s real I think…pretty sure it’s still real.”
A highlight of the day was when McDowell created his concrete “squish” that will feature his handprints, footprint and signature that will have a permanent place on the Champion’s Sidewalk in front of the track’s Ticket and Tours building, which is also home of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. McDowell’s race-winning Ford – just as it came from Victory Lane – was placed inside the Hall and will be on display until the 2022 DAYTONA 500.
“These items presented today mean a lot to our sport, and goes back generations and decades,” added Kennedy, whose great grandfather Bill France, Sr., founded NASCAR. “These are things that are synonymous with the Great American Race, a part of that tradition. We’re glad to celebrate with the team.”
The action at Daytona International Speedway continues this weekend on the track’s iconic road course that will host NASCAR’s three top-tier series, Feb. 19-21. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hits the 14-turn, 3.61-mile layout on Friday, Feb. 19, with the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday (Feb. 20) and the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday (Feb. 21). Tickets start at $59 for adults for the Cup race with kids starting at only $10. Kids 12 and under are FREE on Friday and Saturday in select sections.
— Daytona International Speedway —