By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The driver of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang lined up sixth on the final restart of the Go Bowling at The Glen. The Front Row Motorsports driver was caught behind fellow Ford Performance driver Joey Logano as the race leaders ran wide exiting Turn 1. Boxed in by Logano and Tyler Reddick, McDowell was unable to take advantage.
Though McDowell did work his way by Reddick, his run inside the top-five didn’t last long. In the closing laps Daniel Suarez dropped the 37-year-old back down to sixth. McDowell held off Reddick and Christopher Bell to take the checkered flag in sixth.
“It is disappointing,” admitted McDowell. “I don’t think we quite had enough for the No. 9 or the No. 5. I tried to hold them off as long as I could, they just had a bit of pace on me. They were pushing me hard enough that I was getting wide and making mistakes. I tried to make a move on that second-to-last restart there and got a pretty good run on the No. 5 and went to the inside and it just didn’t work out.
“We got jammed up on the bottom and everyone was smashing into each other, and we lost a couple of spots. That was pretty much it at that point. It is just disappointing. We’ve got to win to get into these playoffs. But I am proud of everybody at Front Row. We had a fast car, and we were in the hunt. It just wasn’t quite enough.”
Taking the Lead
Although the start of the race was delayed, it still started in wet conditions. McDowell wasted no time in the treacherous track conditions and took the lead from Elliott on the fourth lap. The Phoenix, AZ native maintained the lead until he pitted prior to the end of Stage 1. McDowell still managed to finish the Stage in eighth.
In Stage 2, the Cup Series veteran opted to pit early. The move allowed him to finish the Stage in third. Between the first two Stages, McDowell gained an additional 11 points.
The sixth-place finish is McDowell’s 10th top-10 finish this season, doubling his career-high mark for a single season from 2021. It is also his 27th career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Must Win at Daytona
The top-10 finish moved McDowell up from 26th to 24th in the points standings. He is 487-points behind leader, and regular season champion, Elliott. McDowell is 344-points behind the playoff cutoff, currently held by Ryan Blaney. With only one race left before the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, he is in a must-win scenario entering the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is Saturday, August 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcasted on NBC, Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.