Race Weekend Central

The Underdog House: David Ragan, Michael McDowell Pay the Price For Good Daytona Performances

2022 Daytona I Cup Michael McDowell David Ragan wreck Brad Keselowski NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

With several underdogs looking to capitalize on a golden opportunity in the 2022 Daytona 500, it was the defending champion who led the way once the checkered flag waved on the 64th Great American Race.

Michael McDowell proved just how special Daytona could be last year, reminding fans anyone in the field has a shot to take home the Harley J. Earl Trophy. The reigning winner started his effort to become only the second back-to-back 500 champion this century from the sixth position. He endured to earn a top-10 finish, winding up seventh for his best result since Circuit of the Americas last May.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2022 Daytona 500

Austin Cindric wins the 2022 Daytona 500. Photo: NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Many drivers go a lifetime without winning NASCAR’s biggest race, but it took Austin Cindric just eight starts to put that notch on his belt. Cindric powered to the front on the final restart and blocked his way to the win as chaos erupted behind him.

Up to Speed: Brad Keselowski & Austin Cindric Battle at Daytona

#6: Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang Castrol Violet Defense

(Photo: NKP)

One year ago, Brad Keselowski’s frustration was visible.

As the final laps of the Daytona 500 ticked away, Keselowski made a bold move to set himself up for a last-lap pass for the lead on his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano. But when Logano blocked Keselowski’s path forward, Keselowski got hit from behind by Michael McDowell, triggering a frightening crash that knocked out both Penske cars. McDowell went on to win the race, leaving Keselowski without a Harley J. Earl Trophy for at least one more year.

Aric Almirola: ‘I’ll Want This One Back For Sure’

Aric Almirola smiles in the garage area at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo: NKP)

(Photo: NKP)

Aric Almirola knew this Daytona 500 was going to be different.

The 64th annual Great American Race may be his last, the three-time Cup Series race winner having announced his retirement from full-time NASCAR racing after what will be 11 complete seasons. Pre-race, he was soaking in every moment with family members, close sponsor representatives and others.

Post-race, he was wishing he had one more shot.

Frontstretch 2-Minute Drill: 2022 Daytona 500

NASCAR Next Gen car

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The 2022 Daytona 500 is here. It took three months and 13 days, but we made it through the offseason, folks. NASCAR Cup Series racing is back. Well, if you want to get technical, regular-season NASCAR racing is back, since the Clash at the L.A. Coliseum took place two weeks ago, but the season opener is upon …

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NASCAR’s Next Gen Car, Old Habits & Finding the Limit

NASCAR Next Gen car

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Out with the old and in with the new.

That’s the overall theme this weekend as NASCAR starts its 2022 season.

The primary stage of transition is the Cup Series’ Next Gen car.

NASCAR’s premier series is no stranger to new cars. This one’s alternate name is Gen 7 for a reason.

Michael McDowell Fastest in Friday Daytona 500 Practice

#34: Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports, Ford Mustang Outwest Express

(Photo: NKP)

Michael McDowell picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in his 358th start at last year’s Daytona 500. With a second-place finish in his qualifying race yesterday and the fastest time in final practice Friday (Feb. 18) at 192.68 mph, his Daytona 500 defense is off to a great start. Front Row Motorsports …

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NASCAR 101: A Menagerie of Unknowns, Potential Surprises at Daytona

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald's Toyota, Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, drive during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Things couldn’t be more nebulous to begin the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

What They Said: Daytona 500 Media Day Quotes

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald's Toyota, Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, drive during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Check out what the Daytona 500 competitors had to say Wednesday, Feb. 16, during media day for the 64th annual Great American Race.

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