Every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team knows that to come out of Talladega Superspeedway with a strong finish you need a good car and good luck. Unfortunately, Leavine Family Racing had the car but not the luck this Sunday in the Geico 500.
Driver Michael McDowell qualified the No. 95 Jordan Truck Sales Ford Fusion in sixth position for the Geico 500, giving the team an ideal starting position for the 500-mile race.
The team had a great start to the race – running in the top-10 or top-20 and moving well in the front pack of drafting race cars.
The bad luck struck on lap 60, when the No. 1 car got loose in the pack and hit the No. 95 square on the right side of the car. From there, the team had to pit multiple times under caution to repair the damage, working to stay on the lead lap and keep the car in the draft pack.
“You never know what’s going to happen at Talladega and this time, we got the bad end of the deal,” said McDowell. “It was fun running up front. Once we got into that wreck, we just had to work on getting the aerodynamics of the car back.”
The team kept the car on the track for another 65 laps, but the damage tore a right front tire and sent McDowell hard into the wall under green. The damage from that incident was too much to repair and the team had to pack up for the day.
“I was proud of the team and our driver this weekend,” said crew chief Wally Rogers. “We came out here strong – secured a great qualifying position and ran up front until that wreck. The pit crew worked hard at keeping the car on the track for the rest of the race, the damage was just too significant. We’ve got three more races left and we are certainly ready for them!”