Michael McDowell, who led only one lap — the final lap, which resulted in a fiery multicar crash — seemingly snuck out of nowhere to win the Daytona 500, the first victory of his 14-year career.

“I just can’t believe it,” McDowell admitted to Fox Sports’s Jamie Little after the race. “Just gotta thank God. So many years just grinding it out, hoping for an opportunity like this. . . I’m so thankful. Such a great way to get a first victory. Daytona 500, are you kidding me?!”

The early Monday morning victory capped off a wild race that started Sunday afternoon with a 16-car crash on lap 15 followed by a 5-hour 40-minute weather delay.

Denny Hamlin won the first two stages but ultimately finished in fifth place, ending his bid to become the first driver to win three straight Daytona 500s.

Chase Elliott finished .07 seconds behind McDowell while Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick finished third and fourth, respectively.

McDowell’s win — the first of his 358 career starts — came as the accident in the final lap brought out the race’s seventh caution flag. He becomes the eighth driver to get his first victory at the Daytona 500. He’s the first to do so since Trevor Bayne in 2011.

Find highlights

5:39 a.m.
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A look at the decisive accident

4:24 a.m.
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Danny Hamlin wins Stage 2 of the Daytona 500

Denny Hamlin fended off another fierce battle for the lead in the final laps of Stage 2, and the reigning Daytona 500 winner held off to capture the first two stages of the three-stage race.

Hamlin’s patience and decisiveness has put him in a commanding position to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win three straight Daytona 500s.

He passed Bobby Allison for fifth place on the Daytona 500′s all-time list for laps led.

4:12 a.m.
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Six drivers involved in crash on lap 112, bringing out fifth caution flag

Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, Kaz Grala and Jamie McMurray crashed on lap 112 as Denny Hamlin retook the lead during Stage 2.

Larson pitted after getting a flat tire and damage to the right side while Grala’s rear right tire burst into flames. Grala attempted to resume the race but the fire returned.

3:22 a.m.
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Denny Hamlin takes Stage 1

Denny Hamlin, winner of the past two Daytona 500s, took Stage 1 of Sunday’s race, fending off a feisty push to overtake his lead in the final three laps and earning himself 10 stage points.

Hamlin led 36 of the 65 Stage 1 laps. Ryan Preece, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five of the first stage. Kyle Bush, who won Saturday’s Busch Clash, dropped from second to 12th in a wild final lap.

“Overall, I like this view a lot better than sitting back and waiting but we’ll just see how the rest of the race plays out,” Hamlin told the Fox Sports broadcast crew after winning Stage 1.

2:50 a.m.
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Another caution as Quin Houff and Chase Briscoe collide on the 38th lap

Quin Houff and Cup Series rookie Chase Briscoe collided on the 38th lap, bringing out the third caution flag of the young race. Houff is now out of the race.

2:25 a.m.
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Daytona 500 resumes after more than five hours of weather delays

The engines have fired and the race is back on with 11 drivers declared out for the night. Crews whose drivers were involved in the huge Lap 15 wreck attempted to use the six-minute window to get back their cars back on the track.

Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Derrike Cope, Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones, Ryan Newman, David Ragan and Daniel Suarez are all out of the race, according to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass.

Other drivers pushed through on the restart, even with cars not completely intact.

Kaz Grala currently leads in lap 27.

1:31 a.m.
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NASCAR targeting 9 p.m. race restart

With more than a four hours of weather delays in the rear view mirror, NASCAR is determined to finish the race Sunday night, announcing it plans to resume the Daytona 500 at 9 p.m. Eastern time with drivers being told to be in their cars by 8:45 p.m.

Kevin Harvick leads Stage 1 after 15 laps.

1:01 a.m.
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Kyle Busch did NOT win the Daytona 500

Kyle Busch did not win the Daytona 500, despite how it may have looked on Fox Sports Sunday evening.

Faced with the task of filling time with the race in a rain delay, Fox Sports followed a documentary on the making of “Days of Thunder” with a replay of the Busch Clash from last week.

The problem is that people who weren’t watching closely didn’t notice the little “Fox Weather Delay” in the upper right corner and were congratulating Kyle Busch for winning the Daytona 500, which no one has yet done.

The confusion was somewhat understandable. The Busch Clash replay ended about the same time as the Daytona 500 could have and the replay from Fox Sports 1 featured a then-live interview with Busch as well as studio hosts discussing the race.

12:36 a.m.
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When the race resumes, this is what it will look like

A rain delay at an event in east-central Florida is not surprising, particularly when it occurs at a racetrack is hosting the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s preeminent event.

But it sure is annoying.

The race has been on hold since a 16-car crash on the 15th lap coincided with the arrival of lightning. A red flag sent drivers and crews to their quarters to wait out the weather. And wait. And wait.

If the rain lets up — and a two- or three-hour dry window is a possibility — the race could resume Sunday even if it goes very late. It can take 90 minutes to an hour and a half to dry the Daytona International Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval and Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass reports that NASCAR has 19 of its track-drying trucks on site. Those blow water off the track and then jet-fueled dryers finish the job.

During a rain delay, teams cannot work on cars, which may be significant for the 16 that were involved in the crash. After that is lifted, teams have six minutes under NASCAR rules to make repairs.

Last year’s race was postponed to Monday and that is always a possibility. But the track has lights and the race could conclude in prime time Sunday night on Fox. If not? Cars would be impounded in teams’ garages overnight.

NASCAR’s preference probably would be to resume the race, which would probably take three hours, by 10 p.m., according to Pockrass, and there is precedent for races at Daytona to go very late. NASCAR officials can attempt to get to the halfway point to make the results official, but this is the Daytona 500 and NASCAR, as well as fans and drivers, want to see the race go the distance.

12:06 a.m.
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NASCAR drivers make the best of delay by going out for food

While Denny Hamlin munched on a snack during a Zoom interview with Fox Sports during the Daytona 500 rain delay, Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe wanted something more substantial.

Reddick, who was one of the drivers involved in the 16-car crash, tweeted an image of a menu from Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, a family friendly place that serves American comfort food with a Texas twist and, of course, cocktails. After that wreck, perhaps he could use a little comfort food from the restaurant, which is a stone’s throw from Daytona International Speedway. At any rate, he added, “things are starting to turn around.”

Briscoe’s appetite was a little more basic, with his wife Marissa tweeting an image of him behind the wheel (naturally) in his race gear at a drive-thru place.

Ross Chastain, also in his racing suit, hit McDonald’s and ordered grub for the entire racing team.

11:53 p.m.
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Track-drying resumes during break in rain

Crews have resumed their attempts to dry the track with their “air titan” trucks but weather conditions for the next few hours continue to remain uncertain. It appears the cars have been moved from pit road to their respective garages.

10:15 p.m.
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NASCAR suspends track-drying process after rain returns

More than an hour after halting the race due to a lightning storm, the weather hold was lifted and crews began drying the 2½-mile track at Daytona International Speedway, but the rain returned, leading NASCAR to suspend track drying.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast through the 9 o’clock hour and there’s no official word yet on when the race will resume.

9:00 p.m.
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Lightning, downpour stop race as huge wreck takes out 16 drivers

Moments after a massive wreck wreaked havoc on the field, knocking out 16 cars in the 40-car field, the race was halted because of a lightning strike in the Daytona area.

Ryan Newman was among those whose race ended after 15 laps when Aric Almirola got sideways after being bumped by Christopher Bell. Almirola spun sideways and took out Kurt Busch, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, David Ragan, Anthony Alfredo, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez as well as Newman, Bell, and Almirola. Byron’s car nearly flipped.

It isn’t clear how many cars might be able to continue. Byron, Truex, McMurray and Busch drove back to pit road, according to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, but teams cannot work on the cars with the race under a red flag. They’ll be on a six-minute clock when the race resumes.

“We were just getting pushed too early. It’s a long, long race,” Almirola said while drivers headed for cover under the red flag. “Man, we were in a five position, just sitting there riding around in the top two, three and the 20 [car driven by Bell] just came with a big run and hit me really hard in a bad spot and it turned me to the right and tore up our race car and ended our Daytona 500 way too early.”

None of the drivers was injured in the crash, but the rain that followed the lightning left them and those who were still in the race with time to express their feelings about the crash.

“I had the wreck missed but got hit from some place that was the end of our day,” Newman said. “I just feel bad for [the sponsors] ... getting wrecked out of the Daytona 500 so early, but unfortunately that’s part of racing. I just wish we could have had some better results.”

Ragan agreed that drivers were pushing too hard way too early in a 500-mile race while Chase Briscoe was able to crack a joke.

8:21 p.m.
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Derrike Cope out after brush with Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace was involved in a minor crash that sent Derrike Cope up against a wall and out of the race on the third lap.

Wallace pitted and, despite right rear fender and tie damage, returned to the race, where he was in 20th place.