CONCORD, N.C. (March 29, 2017) – Michael McDowell will return to Martinsville Speedway, the site of his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) start, for the STP 500.
McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) are eager to bounce back after a troublesome weekend at Auto Club Speedway where McDowell cut a right front tire during the second stage of the Auto Club 400.
LFR and McDowell's weekend started off strong, as they began the Auto Club 400 in 25th, and continued to race through the Top-25 during the first half of the race. McDowell's flat right front tire happened after receiving damage from contact with the wall. The team worked hard to get McDowell laps back, but came up short and finished 33rd.
"Fontana definitely didn't go the way we wanted," said McDowell. "We got tangled up on a restart, hit the wall and then cut a right front tire that pretty much ended the day for us. I think we had a decent car, so it's unfortunate that we couldn't get those laps back. I am definitely looking forward to moving on to Martinsville this week."
This week, LFR is looking to get back on track at the place where McDowell made his 2008 debut in the MENCS.
In the fall race at Martinsville in 2016, McDowell became dehydrated in the heat as he was recovering from the flu the week prior, and was carried from his car to the infield care center on a stretcher. He was released quickly and did not suffer serious injury other than burns on his heels and lower body. LFR has taken significant steps in cooling the interior of the car to prevent injury, while McDowell has been working on fitness and race preparation.
Martinsville, the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit, is a track that McDowell looks forward to returning to every season. Last season, McDowell earned his career best finish at the half-mile short track with an 18th place finish.
"Martinsville is where I made my first start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series," said McDowell. "It's always fun to go back to where you made your debut. It was a great race for us last year, and short tracks are typically good for us at Leavine Family Racing. Tracks like Martinsville, Bristol and road courses, we circle on our calendar. We have a legitimate shot at running in the Top-15 and Top-10 this week, so that's really exciting for us."
The STP 500 will take place at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 2PM ET. Race fans can tune-in to FOX Sports 1 for the first time this season for race day coverage and follow @LFR95 on Twitter.