Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell fought adversity in the Bank of America 500 to finish 35th in their backyard.
The team had an extremely fast No. 95 Procore Chevrolet SS the entire weekend, and finished first practice 8th fastest. They topped that by finishing the first round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) qualifying 6th fastest on the leaderboard to move on to the second round. They went on to earn a 16th place starting position for the race on Sunday.
Saturday’s on-track activity was cancelled due to rain, but the team was confident in the set-up of their Procore Chevy. They continued with race setup until late Saturday evening.
The start of the 500-mile race on Sunday began with McDowell struggling with a loose-handling car, but he was able to stay in the Top-20 until the competition caution on lap 36 where he received an adjustment to help the handling of the Procore Chevy.
McDowell restarted 16th on lap 41 before a caution came out just three laps later. He gained one spot on the restart, but dropped back due to a “wrecking loose” car. McDowell went on to finish the first stage in 24th.
McDowell began the second stage in 27th, but quickly made his way back into the Top-25 until a part failure sent him spinning. Fortunately, he did not make contact with the wall and was able to drive the car into the garage to diagnose the issue.
The team was able to fix the broken gear cooler, as mechanical issues do not warrant a time limit per NASCAR’s rulebook. McDowell returned to the race, but was 45 laps down.
McDowell continued to race with an exceptionally fast Procore Chevy, and ran times similar to the race leaders. The third stage consisted of long, green-flag runs where the team pitted for tires and fuel, but no major adjustments.
During one of the final cautions of the race, McDowell took the wave around and was able to gain a lap back. Though he finished the race 44 laps down, the team has still completed the most laps of any team and has only had one DNF during the 2017 MENCS season.
“We had a really fast Procore Chevy,” said McDowell. “Unfortunately, we had a gear problem that put us behind the wall for quite a few laps, but we were still extremely fast. It was just one of those days.”
Next up for McDowell and LFR is the Alabama 500 at Talladega Speedway on Sunday, October 15.