MICHAEL MCDOWELL NO. 34 LOVE'S TRAVEL STOPS FORD MUSTANG FINISHED 7th
Defending Daytona 500 Champion Michael McDowell returned to Daytona with an incredible finishing record at the famed race, looking to make it back to back wins at the biggest race of the year. Showing speed in every practice session, and being in contention to win his Thursday Duel, the team had significant momentum leading up to the green flag.
Starting sixth, McDowell quickly showed that he was going to be a factor in the race and wasted no time in advancing, and holding station in the top five for most of the first stage. However, when the racing began to get dicey, the team played it safe, knowing that having the car in one piece at the end meant having a chance at a second Harley J Earl Trophy.
Avoiding multiple wrecks, saving fuel at each stage break and drafting with both teammate Todd Gilliland and Ford manufacturer teammates, meant McDowell would run inside the top ten virtually all race. While stage points did not materialize in order keep the car clean, the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford Mustang ran inside the top ten, and was in the hunt for the trophy at the end of the final stage.
Avoiding a wreck inside ten to go, and restarting inside the top ten, put everything in place to make a back to back win possible. Unfortunately, as the remaining few laps unfolded, there was no room to advance as the racing became tighter than before, boxing McDowell in where he was. Crossing the line in the seventh position proved to be a great points day, and another top ten in the Daytona 500. However, after the start/finish line, a car clipped McDowell's right rear, sending him hard into the wall before entering turn 1. Michael climbed out of the car safe and is ready to move on to Auto Club next weekend.
MCDOWELL ON DAYTONA:
"What a day, and what a speedweeks that was. Our Love's Travel Stops Ford Mustang was fast all week, and that really showed in a big way. Blake and all the crew did an amazing job to put this car together, and calculated a great race to get us in contention to win at the end. We had a shot, but just needed to be a couple sports further up on that last restart to get into the mix. I'm so proud of my team and cant thank them, Ford Performance, and Roush Yates Engines enough."