It was the right way to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. The newly formed partnership fielded two entries in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway and went on to secure two solid finishes in The Great American Race.
NASCAR drivers Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon piloted the No. 59 and No. 95 Chevrolets and secured 15th and 25th place finishes, respectfully.
McDowell, who drove the No. 59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevrolet SS, had to race his way into the Daytona 500 and secured one of the four “Open” spots in the event during Thursday night’s Duels race. He started Sunday’s race in 39th position.
The No. 59 team slowly chipped away at the competition during the race gaining positions and determining the best lines to move forward.
A turning point for the team came at lap 160 when a pit stop mishap cost the team a lap on the track. McDowell then had to race his way ahead of all the other lapped cars in order to put himself in position to get the Lucky Dog on the next caution. Luckily, that caution came at the right time and McDowell and team got back on the lead lap in the winding laps of the race. During the final 20 laps of the race, McDowell drove aggressively, moving up 16 spots in the last 10 percent of the race to secure a 15th place finish and earn the Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award in the season opener.
“I’m proud of my team for fighting hard and never giving up; that’s the kind of attitude we’re going to have this year,” said McDowell. “We are going to keep pushing all year and not give anything to anybody. It’s great to start this season off with two cars in the Daytona 500 for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and to have the support of Thrivent Financial and K-LOVE Radio to make this happen. We’re ready for Atlanta!”
Dillon, from Welcome, N.C., piloted the No. 95 Cheerios / Kroger Chevrolet SS in only his second start in the Daytona 500. The day prior, Dillon, a XFINITY Series regular, won the pole for the Powershares QQQ 300 and finished 13th in the race.
To secure his starting position in the Daytona 500, Dillon showcased his driving skills on the last lap of his Duel race, avoiding a big wreck. He secured a 5th place finish in the race, which placed him 12th on the starting grid for the Daytona 500.
Dillon ran up front for a solid portion of the race trying different lines and racing up to as high as fifth position. Finishing in 25th place, Dillon was pleased with his day as a solid learning experience and bringing his car home in one piece.
“It was a pretty good race for us,” said Dillon. “We were able to race up front quite a bit and try different lines on the track. I definitely learned a lot and my crew chief and spotter helped a ton. I’m very thankful to be a part of the Daytona 500 and come out with a clean race car. Thanks to Bob (Leavine), Joe (Falk), General Mills and Kroger for the support. I’m looking forward to my next race with the team!”
Michael McDowell will pilot the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will take place on Sunday, February 28 at 1:00pm ET. Follow the race team on Twitter for updates at @CSLFR95.
Daytona 500 results are solid start for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing in 2016
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