Michael McDowell rewards Front Row Motorsports with dominant Indy win

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - AUGUST 13: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Horizon Hobby Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 13, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Front Row Motorsports announced an extension for its two drivers this week and Sunday Michael McDowell rewarded his team with his second career win.

He did it in impressive and dominating fashion leading 54 of the 82 laps Sunday to win on the Road Course at Indianapolis. He now has two wins, and wins that few drivers can boast, a win in the Daytona 500, and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Oh, man, this is such a dream come true,” he said. “I’m so thankful to everybody at Front Row Motorsports, Bob Jenkins, Horizon Hobbies, Fr8 Auctions, Chicago Pneumatic.

“Man, we had a fast Ford Mustang. Everybody at Roush Yates engine shop, Doug, these guys gave me everything today. We had the fastest car. We executed, and we did what we needed to do.

“Just so thankful, so thankful to still be grinding it out in the Cup Series,” he added. “To put on a performance like that, I don’t know if it was dominant, but it felt pretty dominant to me.”

Showing speed on Saturday, McDowell rolled off 4th Sunday taking the lead for the first time on lap 6 holding on to win Stage 1, the first Stage win of his career.

Daniel Suarez, who started from the pole finished second in Stage 1 and seemed to be McDowell’s biggest competition. He would finish Stage 2 third and was just ahead of McDowell on the final lap of the Stage, but McDowell was able to charge past entering Turn 1 and went on to finish second in the Stage while Suarez was third.

McDowell would retake the lead on lap 36 and again was being stalked by Suarez. Earlier in the race, Suarez was able to get out in front of Suarez, but on green flag stops on lap 49 Suarez’s crew had an air hose get caught up under the car resulting in a slow stop that sent him back out behind McDowell, and Chase Elliott.

McDowell cycled back to the lead on lap 53 and never looked back, winning over Elliott by .937 of a second. Now, for the second time in his career, McDowell will be part of this year’s Playoffs.

“You know, I thought we could point our way in, but after the car that we had yesterday in practice, I thought, man, we’ve got a good shot at winning if we could just get track position and maintain it.

“Just I can’t believe it, so thankful.”

Elliott held on for second.

“Yeah, I lost too much ground under that pit cycle and was trying to pace myself for the long haul,” Elliott said. “It kind of had that green flag feel. I thought I did that, just needed to do a better job getting through traffic there.”

Behind Elliott a disappointed Suarez had to settle for third with last year’s winner Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman rounding out the top five.

“Just a little bit heartbreaking, but that’s part of the sport,” he said. “All we can do is continue to push, continue to build race cars like this, and I’ll keep on winning races. I can’t thank everyone at Trackhouse Racing, all our sponsors, Freeway Insurance, all the people that help us to perform this way.”

The race’s only caution came on lap 3 when Joey Logano and Justin Haley got together, and Haley was sent into the tire barrier. From there the race had a green flag period nearly two hours long until the checkered flag. It was the first road course race with only 1 caution since Riverside in 1982.

Chase Briscoe was sixth, Martin Truex Jr. seventh, Kayle Larson eighth and Christopher Bell ninth. Chicago winner and Australian Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen rounded out the top 10. All 39 cars that started the race finished the event.

For his second career win McDowell had his family present to celebrate, unlike his Daytona 500 win in 2021.

“Yeah, it’s such a big deal,” he said. “Winning the Daytona 500 was one of the coolest moments you could ever have, but going to Victory Lane without your family was tough.

“And so we cherry pick; my family comes to the races we think we can win,” he added, his voice cracking as his children ran to meet him at the start-finish line. “We thought we could win this one. Just so proud.

Kevin Harvick who finished 23rd, Brad Keselowski (20th) and Bubba Wallace (18) hold the final spots in the Playoff standings on points with Wallace 28 above the cutline after coming into the race 58 above. Suarez is 17th 28 below the cutline but started the day -5.

Elliott came into the race -55 below and leaves -80 and will need to win one of the final two races in the regular season to make the Playoffs.

The series heads to another road course at Watkins Glen New York next Sunday, Kyle Larson is the defending winner.


Greg Engle