By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For the first time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, Michael McDowell scores a top five finish in the Coke Zero 400. McDowell finished fourth after aggressively working his way up through the field in the No. 95 WRL General Contractors Chevrolet SS.
In addition to scoring his career best finish in NASCAR’s Premier series, McDowell scored Championship Points in Stage 1. He finished the stage in the sixth position, netting five points.
The biggest moment of the race for McDowell came when he had to take evasive action in Stage 2. Contact ahead of him caused McDowell to take a hard left down pit road to avoid the possibility of a wreck. As a result, both he and Daniel Suarez who also dropped onto pit road, lost the draft. A caution a few laps later helped McDowell catch back up to the field.
McDowell was excited and thankful for the opportunity,
“It was a great run for us. Really building off the Daytona 500 where we were in the top-five and ran out of gas. We really had a fast car. The boys did a great job. It wasn’t without trouble. We were around a lot of the carnage out there. There was just a lot of hard racing out there tonight. Three-wide, bumper-to-bumper all night long. It is great to have a top-five. Really excited about that. Coming to the white, I thought I might have had a shot at it. But Ricky and I were just too far out and those cars behind us had a big run. Very thankful for the opportunity.”
“We have great people. They are relentless. They work hard. Everybody back at the shop. ECR power under the hood, that helps.”
McDowell’s top five was not only his first, but also the first for Leavine Family Racing since the team’s inception in 2011.
Despite the top five finish, McDowell remains 25th in points, 406 points behind point leader Kyle Larson. He is also 184 points behind the cutoff for the Playoffs.
Now McDowell and the Leavine Family Racing team will look to carry the momentum into Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, July 8.