It was a wild race weekend for the Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing team at Bristol Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team dealt with a downpour of rain, radio issues and a small fire in the cockpit of the No. 95 but persevered and finished 19th in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
Michael McDowell drove the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet to the team’s fourth Top-25 finish in a row. CSLFR is a single-car team and has racked up 13 Top-25 finishes this season with six of those being in the Top-20.
“Everyone did a great job all weekend,” McDowell said after the race. “It was a nice job across the board with continued upward progression. We overcame some challenges during the weekend and put ourselves in position to get a solid Top-20 finish.”
The team qualified 26th for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Friday after ranking 18th in the best 10 consecutive lap averages during practice.
Saturday was plagued by rain at the track, with heavy downpours and then clear weather when race officials dried the track. Less than 50 laps were run on Saturday night before NASCAR officials postponed the race until 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Following a four-hour delay for rain on Sunday, the race finally resumed. At the start, the team quickly learned there were radio issues for McDowell – he could hear the team and his spotter, but the team could not hear him. The team started using hand signals for the first few cautions, having McDowell put his hand on the roof if the car was loose and his hand on the door if the car was tight. Luckily, the radio started working again after a few laps.
Halfway through the race, McDowell reported to the team that he had a small fire in the cockpit of the No. 95 Chevy. He said he was going to ride it out and a few laps later reported that it went out and “all was OK.” The team later found that the track bar motor wiring shorted and started the fire.
Even with the rain, radio issues and small fire in the race car, McDowell and the team persevered through the challenges both on and off the track and came from being two laps down to finishing 19th.
It was the second-highest career finish for both driver and team at Bristol. McDowell secured his best finish at Bristol Motor Speedway two years ago when he drove to an 18th place finish in the No. 95.
McDowell will be pulling double duty this weekend, as he will race for Richard Childress Racing at Road America in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He will then pilot the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400.
Top-20 Finish for McDowell and CSLFR95 at Bristol
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