SPEEDWAY, IN. — Michael McDowell broke through Sunday at Indy and scored a big win for him and the NASCAR Cup Series playoff fight.
McDowell led 54 of 82 laps and broke through for his and Front Row Motorsports’ first full-length win at a non-drafting track.
Front Row Motorsports has been full-time in the series since 2009, with starts backing to 2005. Sunday was McDowell’s 453rd Cup Series start.
McDowell took the lead from polesitter Daniel Suarez on lap five then held on for his first career stage win.
STAGE ONE TOP-10 (LAP 15): McDowell, Suarez, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Shane van Gisbergen, Martin Truex Jr.
Suarez took over the lead during pit stops in stage two. However, with Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski on an alternate strategy causing a roadblock for him, Suarez fell behind McDowell while battling Keselowski.
STAGE TWO TOP-10 (LAP 30): Hamlin, McDowell, Suarez, Keselowski, Elliott, Busch, Reddick, Bowman, Chase Briscoe, Larson
Daniel Suarez placed himself behind Michael McDowell after an aggressive bump to Chase Elliott just before their final pit stops.
Then, when Suarez pitted, he had a long stop after the airgun hose got stuck under his left-front wheel.
Suarez fell behind and couldn’t recover. Although he earned the second-most points Sunday (51), behind only Michael McDowell (59), he finished third.
Meanwhile, McDowell held his breathe as Chase Elliott closed to within a second in the final 30 laps he led.
Elliott’s challenge wasn’t enough – McDowell crossed the yard of bricks and earned his second checkered flag in the NASCAR Cup Series.
McDowell is the 141st multi-time Cup Series winner. He put himself in the playoffs for the second time and FRM for the third time.
TOP-10 FINISHERS (LAP 82): McDowell, Elliott, Suarez, Reddick, Bowman, Briscoe, Truex Jr., Larson, Bell, van Gisbergen
Keselowski finished 20th after placing fourth in stage two. He and Kevin Harvick are separated by two points for what could be the cutline if there are two more new winners.
Harvick finished 23rd and didn’t earn any stage points. Bubba Wallace finished 18th and also didn’t earn any stage points.
Ty Gibbs started tenth but had multiple incidents early on that took him out of any stage points. Still, the rookie finished 12th Sunday.
Bubble driver Justin Haley finished 38th, two laps down, after an incident with Joey Logano and lone caution on lap three.
14. Kevin Harvick +145
15. Brad Keselowski +143
16. Bubba Wallace +28
17. Daniel Suarez -28
18. Ty Gibbs -49
19. Chase Elliott -80
20. Alex Bowman -80
Two races remain until the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs: August 20 at Watkins Glen International and August 26 at Daytona International Speedway.
With 13 winners, no one on the bubble is safe, even Harvick and Keselowski.