McDowell Misses Round of Twelve
Front Row Motorsports traveled to Bristol, Tennessee and the Bristol Motor Speedway for NASCAR's infamous night race.
Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops/Chevron Delo Ford Mustang qualified fourth for the 500-lap race. McDowell and team started strong in stage one, only pitting for right-side tires and fuel during a caution for an on track incident involving fellow competitors, Austin Cindric and A.J. Allmendinger. Rain brought out the caution again, forcing NASCAR to bring the cars down pit road. Back on track, McDowell was shuffled back to 15th after pitting for tires and fuel. He finished stage one 15th. Stage two proved the 34 team strong, gaining eight spots to finish stage two sixth. The final stage was rather quiet with McDowell riding consistently in the top ten to cross the start/finish line sixth.
Todd Gilliland and the No. 38 Speedy Cash Ford Mustang made up solid ground with a 16th place finish after qualifying 30th for Sunday's event. With a long night ahead of them, Gilliland and crew made the decision to stay out during the first caution, setting the pace for the remainder of the night. Stage two provided a big jump for Gilliland, who sat 27th for the restart and quickly made up positions to sit 14th. Similar to McDowell, the 38 team had an uneventful stage three, consistently running in the teens and crossing the line 16th.
Michael McDowell, Driver No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops/Chevron Delo Ford Mustang:
“It’s disappointing not to advance, for sure, but we dug ourselves such a big hole those first two races that we were in a must-win situation. We weren’t good enough to do that tonight, but I’m still really proud of the speed that we brought and the effort that we brought. We still needed a little bit more to contend for that win, but we gave ourselves a fighting chance. Unfortunately, at the end there wasn’t enough action. Normally at Bristol you get a late-race caution and get the front row beating and banging and maybe you get an opportunity, but that just never happened. We’re learning. It’s a learning experience for us. This is only the second time we’ve been in the playoffs. We’ve had a good season. We’ve showed good speed and we’ll learn from the mistakes that we made here in this first round and we’ll keep working hard the rest of the season to try to treat it like we are in and we’re fighting for a championship because hopefully next year we will be. So, it’s a learning experience for us. It’s not what we wanted, but I’m still proud of the effort.”
THE FIRST TIME YOU MADE THE PLAYOFFS YOU WERE JUST HAPPY TO BE THERE. THIS TIME WAS A DIFFERENT FEELING, RIGHT? “The performance was there. I don’t want to downplay that, but we just didn’t execute well and we had some issues. We qualified in the second round of all three races, which you need to do if you want to advance, so we got that part down. At Darlington, we got into that crash at the end and that’s 10-15 spots. That’s all you need to make it, so a lot of things could have gone differently that would have put us in a position to advance, but it just didn’t work out. It wasn’t meant to be. We’ll learn from it and get better for the next time.”
Todd Gilliland, Driver No. 38 Speedy Cash Ford Mustang:
"We had a really solid night for where we qualified. It's so hard to pass here so we had to rely on cautions and pit strategy. Still really proud of this team and the what we accomplished."
The team next races Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on the USA Network.