McDowell dominates Brickyard 200 for 2nd NASCAR crown jewel victory
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Michael McDowell raced to his second NASCAR crown jewel victory Sunday, dominating the Brickyard 200 — and putting himself in the playoffs for the second time in three years.
The 38-year-old Arizona driver who has made more than 450 career starts beat Chase Elliott across the yard of bricks by 0.937 seconds in the road-course race that had only one yellow flag. Pole winner Daniel Suarez was third as the regular season winds down.
McDowell, also the 2021 Daytona 500 winner, gave Front Row Motorsports its fourth victory.
“We did it, we won Indy,” he shouted into the radio. “So thankful.”
McDowell made it look easy this time, too, winning the first stage, finishing behind only Denny Hamlin in the second stage and then inheriting the lead on Lap 54 during a round of pit stops and never trailed again. He led a career-best 54 laps in the 82-lap race.
He had to sneak through traffic following a wild crash to win at Daytona.
“These guys gave me everything today,” he said. “We had the fastest car. I don’t know if it was dominant, but it felt dominant.”
Shane van Gisbergen finished 10th in his second career start, failing to become the first Cup driver to win his first two career starts. Van Gisbergen won in his NASCAR debut on the streets of Chicago in early July.
Kyle Larson’s late-night arrival after winning the Knoxville Nationals sprint car race Saturday in Iowa, didn’t make any difference to the 2021 series champ. He still made it to a scheduled news conference before noon to unveil Arrow McLaren’s No. 17 car for next May’s Indianapolis 500.
Larson is scheduled to attempt the double and the two cars will feature familiar colors — the traditional blue and white paint scheme with a touch of papaya for the 600-mile Charlotte race and papaya, blue and white livery the McLaren team.
“Obviously, I’m extremely excited, but at the same time, I’m so busy racing and trying to take care of my family that I haven’t — like it hasn’t really set in yet that it’s truly a reality,” Larson said. “When you have days like today and you unveil the car, all those little steps, it definitely makes it seem more real. But I’m sure once things slow down in the off-season and I have a lot of time to sit around and think about the upcoming season is when it’s really going to hit.”
William Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet started from the back of the field Sunday after failing inspection three times Friday. Then he was forced to do a drive-thru penalty at the end of his first lap.
But the series’ only four-time winner this season snaked his way back through the field to finish 14th.
The series makes its annual stop at Watkins Glen next Sunday, the second-to-last regular-season race.
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing