By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A calm final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 turned violent for Michael McDowell. With just under 30 minutes left in the session, the Front Row Motorsports driver spun into the outside wall in turn three at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. McDowell’s team will go to a back-up car for Sunday’s race.
McDowell never sensed that something was wrong with his No. 34 Starkey Hearing Foundation Ford Fusion on just his seventh lap of the session. When he braked, the car whipped around on corner entry. McDowell’s Ford slammed the outside wall on the drivers’ side, causing significant damage to the left front. The 33-year-old emerged from the wreckage unharmed.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” McDowell explained. “I got on the brakes and immediately the car started to turn around, so it definitely caught me off-guard whatever it was and at that point I was kind of just along for the ride. There wasn’t any indication that something was going wrong other than when I was already too late.”
“We’ll go back and look and see if we can’t get a better shot of it. It kind of felt like a left-rear tire went down to me, but it’s really hard to tell. There’s not a whole lot left of the race car to go through and see what happened first, but either way we’ll roll out a back-up and be ready to go.”
McDowell had qualified 29th for Sunday’s race, but will now start at the rear of the field. The Phoenix, AZ native did not get any laps in his back-up car to prepare for the race.
At the time, McDowell had posted the 30th-fastest lap of the session. He was 0.635 seconds off of Martin Truex, Jr., who was the fastest in final practice.