It will be an extra special welcoming home this time around for Arizona native and Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell, who kicked off the 2021 season with a big win in the Daytona 500 – his first series career victory. McDowell, from Glendale, will be joined this weekend at Phoenix Raceway by fellow Arizonan and Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman from Tucson as both drivers look forward to competing in front of their home town fans.
McDowell is having a career season, not only did he win the biggest race in NASCAR, the Daytona 500, but he also locked himself into the Playoffs for the first time in his career. What is even more impressive, is he hasn’t been a ‘flash in the pan’ either, in four starts this season he has consistently put up three top-10 finishes and his only finish outside the top-10 this season was last weekend’s 17th at Las Vegas. McDowell is ranked ninth in series driver standings and put up an average finish of 8.0 this season.
While McDowell has been riding a career-high of success, Alex Bowman has been on a roller coaster of up-and-downs through these first four races. The Tucson native started 2021 looking really fast, winning the pole for the Daytona 500, but not long after the chaos. Bowman would finish 35th in the season-opener due to a multi-car incident. Bowman and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team bounced back the next two weekends finishing 10th at the Daytona Road Course and ninth at Homestead-Miami. But the resurgence slowed last weekend at Las Vegas when he finished 27th. His average finish this season is 20.2. Bowman now finds himself 18th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, four points behind Chris Buescher in the 16th and final Playoff transfer spot.
Now both McDowell and Bowman are looking to perform this weekend at Phoenix. McDowell has made 20 series starts at Phoenix posting a best finish of 16th in this event last season. Bowman has made 11 series starts at the 1-mile track in the Valley of the Sun collecting one pole and one top-10 finish (sixth, 2016).