Despite penalty, McDowell remains strong at road courses

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Chase Elliott. Austin Cindric. Kyle Larson. All drivers that one would expect to see up front at road courses. Michael McDowell? Not typically at the top of those lists. Here’s why he should be:

INDIANAPOLIS — They say numbers don’t lie. That phrase couldn’t be any more true than when you look at Michael McDowell and his record on road courses in recent years. Just this season, the Front Row Motorsports driver has notched a third-place finish at Sonoma, a solid eighth at Road America and Sunday, an eighth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

While there is quite a difference between simply finishing in the Top-10 and winning a Cup Series race, McDowell seems pretty content with the former. After his third-place finish at Sonoma in June, the 15-year Cup Series veteran said that the team is “making gains.” Certainly, those gains will need to be continued throughout the rest of the 2022 season after his team’s L2 penalty subtracted 100 driver and owner points from the team, taking McDowell and his No.34 crew from 20th to 26th in the points standings.

Win Incoming?

I probably wouldn’t bet on it, but on a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series, you really never know. Take Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Indianapolis Road Course, for example. The last two restarts were nothing short of absolute chaos, with drivers diving in five or six wide into Turn 1 with just a few laps to go. Eventually, it was Tyler Reddick who captured the victory at Indianapolis, but even he recognized the insanity that is a road course restart. In his post-race press conference, he said “I wish I had a button to turn the (rearview) camera off.” so that he stopped watching the action behind him on the chaotic restarts.

As any racer, McDowell still has victory at the front of his mind, despite all the adversity. Sunday’s eighth-place finish at Indianapolis makes it three road course top 10s for the 37-year-old Arizona native, and he is still feeling determined to make the Cup Series playoffs. “4 to go to make it happen.” said McDowell on his Twitter account after the race, “it” being a spot in the playoffs.

It may be a long shot, but it comes down to this: The man won the Daytona 500, and for that reason alone, he shouldn’t be counted out.

Read On: Reddick dominates Indy, wins in OT

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