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Michael McDowell
McDowell Dominates To Win Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

Michael McDowell certainly has a flair for the dramatic on the biggest stages in NASCAR.

McDowell drove to a dominant victory Sunday in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in the No. 34 Horizon Hobby Ford, beating Chase Elliott in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet to the finish by .937 of a second. It was his second career Cup Series victory.

Front Row Motorsports driver McDowell became the first driver in NASCAR Cup Series history whose first two career wins came at Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as he also won the 2021 Daytona 500.

“This is such a dream come true,” McDowell said. “Man, we had a fast Ford Mustang. We executed. We did what we needed to do. To put on a performance like that, I don’t know if it was dominant, but it felt pretty dominant to me.”

McDowell led 54 of the 82 laps around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. He passed pole sitter Daniel Suarez for the lead after the sole restart of the race on Lap 6 and only trailed thereafter during pit stops.

Arizona native McDowell cycled to the front for the last time on Lap 53 after a host of cars made their final pit stops. He led Elliott by 3.471 seconds on Lap 56, but Elliott gradually chipped away at that gap over the next 20 laps.

Elliott pulled to within 1.394 seconds with one lap to go as he and McDowell snaked through lapped traffic. Elliott gained even more ground on the final lap, but McDowell kept his composure and held on for victory.

“I was really trying to pace myself,” McDowell said. “I figured there would be a late-race caution. I didn’t want to burn my stuff up. I was just trying to maintain that gap, but then when I got into traffic, it (gap) started to close, so I had to push it.”

That caution never came, as the last 77 laps of the race ran under green.

“Congrats to Michael, man,” Elliott said. “He did a good job. He ran a great race, stayed mistake-free, and that’s what you’ve got to do to win.

“I lost too much ground under that pit cycle. I was just trying to pace myself for the long haul, kind of had that green flag feel. I thought I did that. I just needed to do a better job getting through traffic.”

Suarez finished third in the No. 99 Chevrolet, 5.750 seconds behind McDowell. He could have contended for victory on pure pace but lost too much ground when an air hose got stuck under the left front tire when the jack dropped on one of his pit stops.

McDowell took an interesting path to the Victory Podium at the Brickyard. He started his career in open-wheel racing, winning the 2004 USF Pro 2000 championship and made two INDYCAR SERIES starts that year with Champ Car team Rocketsports, competing against reigning and two-time INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power at Surfers Paradise and Mexico City.

But then McDowell reached a fork in his career and turned to sports cars and then stock cars, making his 453rd Cup Series start today since his debut in NASCAR’s top series in 2008.

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