LOUDON, N.H. (September 25, 2017) – Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) brought home their best finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at the ISM Connect 300.
LFR struggled to find speed in both practice and qualifying on Friday, as McDowell earned a 31st place starting position for the race on Sunday. Saturday brought optimism as the team made gains in the final practice sessions.
At the start of the 300-mile race on Sunday, McDowell reported that his No. 95 Procore Chevy's front end felt way too high off the ground. After 50 laps completed, the handling was no better and was extremely loose.
At the conclusion of the first stage, McDowell finished 29th and pitted to fix a hole in the nose of the Procore Chevy, along with a few other chassis adjustments.
Stage two brought similar results for McDowell, as he continued to struggle piloting his Procore Chevy. With 15 to go in the stage, McDowell came over the radio and told crew chief, Todd Parrott, that he wanted to make a major change before the final stage, since nothing had helped so far.
McDowell started the final stage in 27th and began to have radio troubles with the crew. McDowell was forced to use signals to answer yes or no questions by keying the radio when asked if certain changes needed to be made.
Fortunately, the team was able to overcome the radio issue and communicate to Michael to pit as a caution came out with 80 laps to go. Though many decided to take the wave around, Todd Parrott made the call to pit, which put McDowell in 30th to take the green flag. As the field began to make their green flag stops, McDowell gained multiple spots and settled into the Top-25.
McDowell made his final pit stop with 33 laps to go and survived multiple cautions on restarts. He went on to finish 23rd, his best finish at the "Magic Mile".
"It was kind of a rough day for us in our Procore car," said McDowell. "The first half of the race was pretty bad for us. The leaders were just so fast and lapped so many cars. That really changes the dynamic of the race. Once you get lapped once or twice, you've got nothing. Everyone did a good job, and we made good changes at the end to make up a lot of spots. We were very competitive at the end there. We just have to start off better. That will have to come from doing better in practice – All of us, myself included. We are going to just keep plugging away and head to Dover."
Next up for McDowell and LFR is the Apache Warrior 400 Presented By Lucas Oil at Dover International Speedway.