Michael McDowell battles back for Top-20 at Phoenix

Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo

By: Sarah Handy, Staff Writer

Michael McDowell battled back for a Top-20 at Phoenix, but he had what he called ‘an up and down day’ in Sunday’s FanShield 500. 

Rolling off the Phoenix Raceway starting grid from the 22nd position, McDowell’s early comments were that his No. 34 Ford Mustang was ‘extremely free’. Stage 1 would end on Lap-75 with McDowell scored in 22nd.

Thanks to some timely cautions, the team was able to make much needed adjustments during Stage 2. He went on to finish 26th in the stage.

As Stage 2 ended, McDowell radioed his team to voice that his car was having an engine issue. Further assessment revealed it was a faulty spark plug wire. As the team went on to replace the wire, McDowell fell 2 laps down.

Adversity showed up but McDowell would conquer it before the checkered flag waved.

He was able to take the wave around during the third stage. Thanks to a timely caution they remained only one lap down to the leaders. With about 40 laps to go in the event, McDowell was able to put himself in the position for the lucky dog and get back on the lead lap.

As he crossed the finish line, McDowell found himself scored 16th for his second Top-20 finish on the young season.

McDowell’s 16th place finish also tied his career best finish at his home track of Phoenix Raceway. 

“Today was an up and down day,” said McDowell. “We had a spark plug wire go bad, and lost a few laps at the end of Stage 2. But luckily, we were able to get a new plug wire put on and only went 2 laps down.”

“From there, we were able to take a wave-around under caution and then battled hard to put our Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang in position to get the Lucky Dog later on in the race, which put us back on the lead lap. After that, we had a couple of good restarts and took the checkered flag in 16th. It was one of those days where you just have to keep grinding. I’m so proud of my guys for fighting hard to get everything fixed under caution. All in all, we got the finish that we needed, and we’ll move on to Atlanta next weekend.”

Michael McDowell and his No. 34 Ford Mustang for Front Row Motorsports will be back in action next Sunday in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 15.

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