Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) earned their 11th Top-20 finish of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
At the beginning of the weekend, the team worked on a few different setups in McDowell’s No. 95 Wipes.com Chevrolet SS. They went on to barely miss the second round of qualifying and earned a 26th place starting position for Saturday’s night race.
McDowell was able to run in the Top-25 at the start of the race until the first caution on lap 63. Crew Chief, Todd Parrott, called for a rear adjustment and a full pit service. McDowell restarted in the 24th position.
With only a few laps remaining in the first stage, the leaders finally caught McDowell, putting him in the Lucky Dog spot just in time for the stage to end on lap 125.
At the start of the second stage, McDowell restarted 26th and on the lead lap. McDowell reported an extremely tight-handling car as the next caution flag fell on lap 200. Parrott and McDowell discussed pitting for adjustments, but the pair decided to take a risk and wave around under caution.
The risk paid off, as the leaders passed McDowell just before a caution flag fell, and he was once again the Lucky Dog.
McDowell was able to pit under caution to fix some minor front fender damage from earlier contact. Parrott made the call to service the No. 95 Wipes.com Chevy during the caution in order to stay out at the end of the stage. The field went green with six laps remaining, and McDowell was able to finish the stage in 20th.
McDowell took the green flag on lap 257 for the final stage from the 14th position and ran as high as 12th. He continued to battle a tough-handling car, but took the wave around one final time with 100 laps remaining.
The final caution of the race fell on lap 416 where McDowell was running 19th. He told the crew he needed to be tightened up and restarted 20th after his last pit stop.
The race ended on a long green-flag run, and McDowell went on to cross the finish line in 20th, earning LFR’s 11th Top-20 of the season.
“I think we all wanted more out of tonight,” said McDowell. “We couldn’t quite get our car handling the way we wanted to, but we will take another Top-20! We’re extremely thankful to everyone at Wipes.com for coming on board with us this weekend and hope to partner with them again in the future.”
Next up for McDowell and LFR is the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, where they will honor the late Alan Kulwicki with his 1986 rookie MENCS season throwback scheme.