Michael McDowell was just biding his time in the first segment of the race content with running 12th or 13th. He had been quick all weekend long at Watkins Glen International, host of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, so he wasn’t worried about making his move too quickly.
We were just biding our time. Our goal in that first run was to just save fuel and open up our window to make sure we could do it in two spots, so I just found my home there in 12th or 13th and was just trying to save fuel and conserve a little bit,” McDowell told reporters from the garage area Sunday.
Coming to that first pit stop is when the day went south for McDowell and his Front Row Motorsports team. As McDowell explained, the track bar broke when he went down pit road. “As I came down pit road for that first stop the track bar mount broke and the rear end basically without that track bar mount just flip-flops around, so I just tried to nurse it back to the garage.”
That was the issue, after it broke, McDowell tried to get into the garage. The only run off area left between his pit stall and the end of pit road took him nowhere. Forced to go back on the track he eventually brought out the caution flag on lap 36 because of going slow on the course. As an added insult to injury, he also lost one of his tires do to the broken track bar.
McDowell and his crew were able to repair the car enough to go back out for laps. Unfortunately the damage was done and after completing 58 laps on the 2.45 mile course, McDowell had to park the car one last time.
“We qualified in the top 15 and was racing in the top 15. I think we would have had a shot at a top-10. Who knows, with some adjustments maybe a little bit better, but we definitely weren’t in the way today. It’s unfortunate because we had high hopes, but this is part of what happens when you race – things break,” commented McDowell.
In a one off race for Front Row Motorsports, McDowell benefited from testing early last week at the facility. That translated into the second best practice lap in the final Sprint Cup Series practice. While many didn’t think he could have stayed in that spot, McDowell’s background in road racing was going to help him get a career finish.
It was not to be today, but the opportunity with this team hopefully will show that McDowell has the skill to do more than just starting and parking each week.