KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 23, 2017) – Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell earned their 14th Top-20 finish of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at Kansas Speedway.
The team earned their best finish at the 1.5-mile track earlier this year with a 13th place finish and went into this weekend expecting nothing less.
With a solid practice on Friday, the team breezed through the first round of qualifying and earned their best qualifying effort to start the Hollywood Casino 400 from the 16th position.
The No. 95 Tommy Williams Drywall (TWD) Chevrolet SS started out extremely tight, but McDowell was able to free it up after 15 laps. He dropped back to 19th before the competition caution came out on lap 30.
When the field returned to green, McDowell dropped back a few more positions, as the No. 95 still felt too tight. He was able to pit under caution on lap 47 to free the car up and restarted 22nd on lap 52.
With three laps remaining in the stage, a caution came out and McDowell was hit hard from behind. Fortunately, no major damage was acquired and he went on to finish the stage in 21st.
After starting the second stage in 22nd, McDowell still complained of a tight-handling car, and made his first green flag pit stop on lap 143. The next caution flag fell with four laps remaining in the stage. McDowell pitted for four tires in order to stay out at the end of the stage and hopefully gain positions.
McDowell started the final stage in 28th and one lap down before a caution came out on lap 174 giving him the free pass and allowing him to restart in 24th.
Another caution flag fell on lap 198 for a wreck, and McDowell acquired damage to the left front of the No. 95 TWD Chevy. Fortunately, the team was able to fix a large hole in the nose. McDowell restarted 13th after the wreck and made it as far as 11th.
The team was able to make one last pit stop on lap 239 in order to put on the last set of tires and went on to finish the race in 18th, earning their 14th Top-20 finish of the 2017 MENCS season.
"That was a hard fought race," said McDowell. "I felt like we didn't have a ton of speed, but we were still able to stay in the Top-20 for the majority of the race. We got a good amount of damage during the big wreck at the end there, but our guys were able to get it patched up and we were able to salvage a Top-20."