SPARTA, Ky. (July 10, 2017) – Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) extended their streak of Top-25 finishes to nine at Kentucky Speedway during the Quaker State 400 Presented By Advanced Auto Parts.
The team began the weekend with decent practice times. Even though they never made a qualifying run during practice, McDowell was able to make it to the second round of qualifying Friday night, and earned a 21st place starting position for the race on Saturday evening.
At the beginning of the 400-mile race, McDowell was able to quickly jump into the Top-20, but soon fell back, as his No. 95 WRL Chevrolet SS was extremely loose handling.
By the time the competition caution came out on lap 30, McDowell had been lapped by the leader and barely missed the free pass spot. He pitted during the caution in order to tighten up his loose-handling No. 95 WRL Chevy. McDowell then received a penalty for speeding on pit road, and was forced to start at the rear of the field.
McDowell made it back up to 26th by the end of the stage, as he was much faster than a handful of cars in front of him. He would start the second stage in 27th two laps down.
McDowell continued to try and gain track position back, but narrowly missed the Lucky Dog spot again.
At the end of the second stage, Crew Chief, Todd Parrott, explained to McDowell a scenario in which they could take the wave around during the break, but they would not be able to make it very far on fuel. The team decided to pit during the break and hoped for a caution.
Unfortunately the caution did not come when the team needed it, as McDowell once again missed the opportunity to be the Lucky Dog. McDowell was forced to make a green flag pit stop and went a third lap down.
With 16 laps remaining, McDowell reported he felt a bad vibration in his car. Todd Parrott and engineer, Jon Leonard, assured him everything looked fine on the computers. Fortunately, the vibration was nothing serious, and McDowell would go on to finish the race in 23rd after the field went into overtime.
"We got kind of a rough start," said McDowell. "We were fighting really loose during that first run. We made good adjustments and made the car better, but we went one lap down, then went two down and couldn't come back from it. The 78 car was coming fast. We were in the Lucky Dog spot for a while, but it just never worked in our favor."
Next up for McDowell and LFR is the Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 16th.