Since being added to the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule in 2010, Road America has been one of the tracks on the circuit that tends to provide drivers with their first NASCAR wins and the tradition continued on Saturday afternoon.
In the first six events at the track, three of those went to drivers who scored their first NASCAR wins, with Nelson Piquet, Jr. becoming the first in the 2012 event, followed by AJ Allmendinger in 2013, and Brendan Gaughan in 2014.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is racing in Michigan this weekend, the field was full of Xfinity Series regulars and Gaughan as the lone driver who had scored a Road America win in the field. Only one Sprint Cup Series regular made the trek to Wisconsin from Michigan for Saturday’s race, with Michael McDowell making his first Xfinity Series start since 2014 driving the No. 2 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
McDowell started the day on the outside of the front row alongside another driver looking for his first win, Alex Tagliani, and was a force to be reckoned with throughout the day, picking up the lead 24 laps into the race and never looking back. McDowell would lead 24 of the 48 total laps, holding off his RCR teammate Gaughan for the win in a thrilling duel in overtime.
“This is just huge. I’m so thankful and so very blessed. Thank God, first and foremost. RCR, Rheem, this Chevrolet was super fast. I’ve got to thank all of my guys back in Michigan too, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing, for letting me be here. They know how bad I wanted this victory at Road America. So thankful, Justin Alexander and all of the guys called the right shots, I had track position there at the end when we needed it, and this ECR Chevrolet was on rails, it was awesome,” said McDowell.
With the win, McDowell becomes the fourth different first time winner at Road America and also gives RCR three straight wins at the track. McDowell also breaks a winless streak of 296 races across all three national NASCAR series dating back to 2007.
Before Saturday, McDowell may have been best known for his harrowing qualifying crash at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008, but today he can call himself a winner in NASCAR.