Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) overcame adversity at Kansas Speedway to earn their best finish of the season in the Go Bowling 400.
The two-day show began with McDowell blowing a motor in his first few laps of practice. The team worked meticulously on the car during the day to make sure it would be ready for the race the following day and elected not to qualify. McDowell was forced to start 35th with hardly any practice time under his belt.
McDowell worked his way up multiple spots in the first few laps of the Go Bowling 400, but told the team his No. 95 Tommy Williams Drywall (TWD) Chevrolet SS was getting looser as he drove.
Although the car was still not quite how McDowell wanted it, he stayed patient and waited for the sun to go down, as that would affect the handling immensely.
During a caution, McDowell went to pit for a full service, but was hit by the No. 24 as he was entering the pit box, causing him to spin around in the stall. The pit crew made the stop with the car in the stall backwards. Fortunately, the pit crew fixed the damage while still under caution, and McDowell was able to stay on the lead lap.
“You know it’s tough on pit road, but obviously, Chase (Elliott) took two tires there,” said McDowell. “I was following the No. 88 into the box, so I couldn’t see the No. 24 coming out at all and by the time we made contact he was at my left-rear. I just didn’t see him coming in and I don’t think his crew chief knew I was coming in either because he sent him when both the No. 88 and myself were turning into the box right in front of him. That just happens on pit road. Unfortunate, I know, because we got damage and obviously, it took him out for the day too."
During the second stage, Todd Parrott made a few strategic calls to stay out during cautions and not pit, but told McDowell that he would not make it until the end of the stage on fuel. Fortunately, another caution came out, allowing McDowell to pit under yellow, rather than pitting during a green flag run.
McDowell began the final stage in the Top-25 and fought against other cars packing air down on his No. 95 TWD Chevy and also narrowly avoided the fiery crash that brought out the red flag.
During the final pit stop for LFR, Todd Parrott made the call to put on the team’s final set of tires for McDowell’s last run, who ran his fastest laps of the race and was able to work his way into the Top-15. McDowell fought his way into 13th, where he crossed the start / finish line, earning LFR’s best finish of the season so far.
“Everyone at LFR has been working really hard,” continued McDowell. “The 1.5-miles have been good for us this year and it’s good to get another solid finish. We have had a bad string the last three or four weeks and blew an engine there in practice, didn’t get a lot of practice, so, Todd Parrott and John Leonard and all the guys did a good job of really guessing with the set-up and we got a solid finish.”