After winning this year’s Daytona 500 in dramatic fashion, Michael McDowell performed reasonably well in the weeks that followed — proving that his victory in the sport’s biggest race wasn’t a total fluke. However, McDowell has struggled mightily over the last several months and recently just can’t seem to put together a complete race.
Perhaps a return trip to The World Center of Racing and the site of his landmark February triumph will be just what the doctor ordered for McDowell and his Front Row Motorsports team as they prepare to compete in the playoffs for the first time by virtue of their playoff-clinching victory at Daytona earlier this year. “Daytona has been so good to us that we’ve been in the top 10, we’ve been in the top five, we’ve been close,” McDowell said. “The last lap, there’s been times where I’ve made the wrong choice, wrong lane and pushed the wrong guy, and it’s just so hard to get in position and to do it.”
McDowell was justifiably optimistic heading into this year’s Daytona 500. In 19 previous points-paying starts at Daytona International Speedway, he had recorded six top-10 finishes — including a pair of top-fives, the most recent of which was a fifth-place finish in the 2019 running of The Great American Race. “I know it’s going to sound crazy, but I always think I’m going to win this race,” McDowell later said. So, McDowell won’t be surprised if he completes the season sweep at Daytona on Saturday night. And unlike in February, neither will anyone else.