After a surprisingly superb start to 2021 that included an electrifying victory in the Daytona 500 followed by an eighth-place finish the next weekend on the Daytona International Speedway road course and a sixth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Michael McDowell has cooled off considerably in the past two races.
After finishing 17th at Las Motor Speedway two weekends ago, the Front Row Motorsports driver struggled even more this past weekend with a 23rd-place showing at his home track of Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. That result wasn’t helped at all by a late-race penalty for speeding on pit road. Although McDowell is all but assured a playoff berth by virtue of his win in the Daytona 500, he’s still eager to recapture his early-season mojo and hopes to do so on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway—a track where he’s never enjoyed a lot of success but still believes he can perform at a high level characteristic of his terrific start to 2021.
"This team fights,” said McDowell, who has slipped to 11th in the points standings after last Sunday’s race. “We worked on the car all race at Phoenix. We never stopped trying to find that speed. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) made a good call on strategy and that gained us a lot of positions and track position. We had to overcome the penalty late, but we got back to where we were. We go to Atlanta, a huge weekend for us. So, we study what happened at Phoenix and get focused on Atlanta."