After earning his fourth top-10 finish of the season Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, Michael McDowell said the year has been “a dream come true.”
McDowell finished third in the GEICO 500 after pushing Ford teammate Brad Keselowski to the lead and the win. Just as it happened in the Daytona 500, McDowell and Keselowski drafted together over the final few laps at Talladega, with McDowell shoving Keselowski forward on the last lap. But this time, Keselowski made the winning pass as McDowell tied his single-season high in top-10 finishes.
“This is what I’ve worked so hard (for), to be in a position like this: to run well consistently, to have the opportunity to perform,” McDowell said. “I’m so thankful to Bob Jenkins, everybody at Front Row Motorsports, for not only allowing me to be a part of their team but growing it and building it, and we’ve come a long way in four years.
“I do take a lot of satisfaction in being a part of that process, continuing to add to the stats and the performance for our race team. The future’s bright for us at Front Row. We want to keep building this momentum, keep getting better, and roll that into the Next Gen car next year, and try to feel like we can close the gap to the bigger teams even one more step. Like I said, the future’s bright, and really looking forward to it.”
McDowell started the year by winning the Daytona 500, which should put him in the postseason. In fact, McDowell came out of the gate with three consecutive top-10 finishes, which he had never done before. Talladega was his second top-five finish of the year, and that also ties a previous single-season high for McDowell with still plenty of racing left for him to improve in both categories.
Another great day at @TALLADEGA. @Mc_Driver comes home third and @anthonyalfredo earns his best @NASCAR Cup finish, 12th in Sunday's race. Today's primary partners @LovesTravelStop and @speedycash help make it all possible! pic.twitter.com/WB5mJiNEBu
— Front Row Motorsports (@Team_FRM) April 25, 2021
While McDowell previously admitted the No. 34 team has outperformed where they thought they would be, 2021 hasn’t been a shock to Front Row. It’s been a continuation of where the company thought they were at the end of last season and they continue to build on those results.
And had things transpired just a bit differently, McDowell might be sitting on two wins this season. Even though he pushed Keselowski out front, McDowell still thought he had a shot at winning the race coming to the flag.
“Honestly, I was pretty close to timing it,” he said. “I just didn’t drag Brad back enough when I got to his right rear. He kind of pulled down, which is good. I was watching the 24 a little bit too much and needed to drag Brad back a little bit more.
“We definitely had a shot at it – really fast Ford Mustang today. Glad a Ford Mustang got into Victory Lane there. It ended a little bit different than the Daytona 500; Brad and I have always worked well together it seems like at the end of these races where we’re usually around each other. We were able to execute really well on the restart and get a Ford Mustang into Victory Lane.”