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Race report
NASCAR Cup Indianapolis

McDowell holds off Elliott to win NASCAR Indy RC Cup race

For the second time in the last three years, Michael McDowell has won his way into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

McDowell took advantage of a slow pit stop by Daniel Suarez to extend his lead early in the final and never looked back.

The 38-year-old native of Phoenix, Ariz., deftly out-dueled Chase Elliott down the stretch as the race ended with a 77-lap green flag run. He cleared Elliott by 0.937 seconds to win Sunday’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Although McDowell was in contention to make the 2023 playoffs based on points, his victory locks him into the 16-driver field.

McDowell’s only other Cup win came in the 2021 Daytona 500. He finished a career-best 16th in the series standings that year.

The win by McDowell and his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team also gives Ford three consecutive wins for the first time since the 2020 season.

 

“Oh man, this is a dream come true. I’m just so thankful for everybody at Front Row Motorsports and (owner) Bob Jenkins,” McDowell said. “Man, we had a fast Ford Mustang today. We had the fastest car.

“I’m just so than to still be driving in the Cup series. To put on a performance like that, I don’t know if it was dominant, but it felt pretty dominant to me.”

Asked about Elliott’s charge in the final laps, McDowell said, “I was just trying to pace myself. I figured there would be a late-race caution and I didn’t want to burn my stuff up. I was just trying to maintain that gap.”

Suarez, who started on the pole, finished third, Tyler Reddick was fourth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top five.

Completing the top-10 were Chase Briscoe, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen.

Van Gisbergen, who won in his inaugural Cup race last month on the Chicago Street Course, led a strong international contingent of drivers in Sunday’s race.

Fellow Supercars star Brodie Kostecki finished 22nd, 2010 Le Mans 24 overall winner Mike Rockenfeller was 24th, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button was 28th and WEC star Kamui Kobayashi ended up 33rd.

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Stage 1

With the completion of lap 15, McDowell held off Suarez by 0.720 seconds to claim the Stage 1 win – the first stage victory of his career. Elliott ran third, Reddick fourth and Larson fifth.

Shortly after the start, Joey Logano hopped the curb and knocked Justin Haley into the tire barrier into Turn 6, which did significant damage to his No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

 

Stage 2

With the completion of lap 35, Hamlin edged McDowell by 0.744 seconds to take the Stage 2 win. Denny Hamlin remained the only car that had not yet made a green flag stop.

Suarez ran third, Brad Keselowski fourth and Elliott fifth. Hamlin and Keselowski made their first stops of the race within the next two laps.

Stage 3

After Hamlin hit pit road for his first pit stop of the race, McDowell took over the race lead on lap 36.

With 35 laps remaining, Suarez went to the inside of Elliott and nudged him out of the way to take over the runner-up position behind McDowell.

One lap later, several lead-lap cars hit pit road to kick off the final round of green flag stops to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the end of the race.

Suarez had a slow stop and lost several positions as the air hose got briefly caught under the splitter of the No. 99 Chevrolet.

 

Once the cycle of stops was completed, McDowell reemerged as the leader over Elliott with 29 laps remaining.

With 15 laps to go, McDowell maintained a 2.6-second lead over Elliott as Suarez ran third, almost seven seconds behind the leader.

Elliott still trailed McDowell by 2.8 seconds with five laps remaining and had a difficult time navigating lapped traffic between himself and the leader.

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