Solid Start Ends in Frustration
Michael McDowell and the No. 95 LFR K-LOVE Ford Fusion emerged from the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen unhurt, but frustrated by what could have been.
After qualifying in the 29th position the Leavine Family Racing team began the day with cautious optimism, looking to carry the momentum of the previous three races into the “superspeedway” of road courses. Racing at Watkins Glen Int. Raceway requires solid pit strategy and a little luck. Most teams were looking to split the race into three stops, hoping to stretch the fuel mileage to score the win.
Following the drop of the green flag Michael McDowell raced his way through the pack and was in 21st position when an early caution on lap 11 brought the No. 95 to pit road for adjustments. As the pit strategies unfolded McDowell ran as high as third position. Overall the car was strong and the team was optimistic that a good finish was in sight.
The No. 95 KLOVE Ford was again racing through the pack when the caution flew on lap 51 for the stalled car of Jeff Gordon. The team brought McDowell to pit road for four tires and slight adjustments, returning to the action in 23rd position. As the green flag fell for the restart the No. 95 was ready for a charge toward the front.
However another solid team effort was interrupted on lap 56 when McDowell was caught up in another driver’s accident and catapulted into the Armco barrier surrounding the multi-purpose racing facility. In an effort to avoid a direct hit on Ryan Newman’s driver’s door, Michael McDowell steered his Ford left. The left front of Newman’s car clipped the right rear of the No. 95 Ford causing it to careen sideways. The impact ripped the rear end housing from the car and left McDowell slightly dazed but unhurt, with his car sitting on top of the barrier.
Despite the violent nature of the accident all drivers walked away unhurt. After a short visit to the infield care center driver Michael McDowell was able to smile and speak with the media about his wild ride.
Start - 29th Finish – 42nd
Michael McDowell Quote:
“First, I’m thankful for the safe race car that Leavine Family Racing provides. That was a hard hit. It’s unfortunate as we had a good car and were making progress throughout the race. The K-LOVE Ford was running strong and I felt we were capable of another solid finish. I saw the No. 31 (Ryan Newman) get sideways after bouncing off the barrier and I didn’t want to hit him in the door. I was able to turn just enough to ensure that didn’t happen, but our cars collided and I ended up on the barrier. Just glad everyone is OK. That’s racing. Proud of the entire team for the continued hard work and I look forward to getting back on track at Bristol.”