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Following a 16-car wreck and a lengthy rain delay, sixth-year driver Michael McDowell got his first series win in the Daytona 500.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
The Front Row Motorsports veteran posted a typical campaign in 2019. McDowell rode the No. 34 Ford Mustang to two Top-10 and 10 Top-20 finishes. The two most impressive outings of the year were his fifth-place Daytona 500 finish and his fifth-place Talladega finish in October. The superspeedways have always been kind to this driver and team. It all resulted in a 27th-place finish in the driver points for McDowell. Although FRM is reducing from three to two teams in 2020, it will have no impact on this team. All sponsors and crew chief are expected to return in the upcoming season. With the reduction in FRM's footprint, McDowell could benefit a bit. More focus and resources could flow into this team.
It's hard to believe but we're coming up on McDowell's 12th season of part or full-time competition in NASCAR's top division. The 34-year-old has bounced all over the NASCAR garage area over the years, but he seems to have settled in with Front Row Motorsports for the time being. This will be his second season with the FRM No. 34 team. He raced to one Top-10 finish last year and a respectable 26th-place finish in the final driver standings. McDowell has slotted typically between there and 30th for the last three seasons. With now 285 Cup starts under his belt, McDowell is one of the grey beards in the garage area. He'll once again pair with Derrick Finley atop the team's tool box and look to improve in 2019. McDowell is typically a mid-20s finisher each week, and that's something we've grown to depend on in both regular fantasy racing and DFS.
The journeyman driver makes the switch from Leavine Family Racing to Front Row Motorsports in 2018. McDowell posted good numbers with the No. 95 team last season. The veteran driver nabbed one Top-10 finish at Daytona in July, and collected a total of five Top-15 finishes throughout the season. It led to a career-best points finish of 26th-place and a career-best average finish of 22.2 for the season. The move from LFR to FRM is more of a lateral move at best in terms of personnel and equipment, so the talent should be able to fetch similar results in the upcoming season. McDowell and his new No. 34 Ford team will be one of the more interesting outcomes/pairings of the new season. At the time of this writing his crew chief has still not been named, and that news could impact his potential more than any other variable.
The driver in the lower tier of the Monster Energy Cup Series that made the most gains was by far McDowell. Even though he only competed in 31 of the 36 races, he guided the Leavine Family Racing team to two Top-10 finishes, his career-best 24.5 average finish and a 30th-place effort in the driver standings. More often times than not, McDowell was finishing on the lead lap and in or near the Top 20. That's an incredible improvement over where this team had been finishing as a part-time race team in the recent past. So the move to full-time racing for the No. 95 Chevrolet team was an unquestionable success. McDowell returns to this small team in 2017 and for a full slate of races. It's expected that he'll be reunited with veteran crew chief Todd Parrott and the two will continue on what they built last season.
McDowell returns for another part-time effort for the Leavine Family Racing team in 2016. He will attempt at least 26 events with this race team. Circle Sport Racing and Leavine Family Racing merge this season to bolster equipment/sponsorship and team changes from Ford to Chevrolet.
The 28-year-old McDowell will return for his sixth season of Sprint Cup Series action in 2013. He will return to the No. 98 team that he spent all of last season with. Team owner Mike Curb merged his team over the off-season and has now become Phil Parsons Racing. McDowell’s efforts were mostly of the start-and-park variety last year, and unfortunately we don’t see that changing right away in the upcoming season. This team will need major sponsorship and funding to develop before McDowell can be a serious competitor in NASCAR’s top division.
More Fantasy News
Day ends early at Talladega
The Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford team was penalized after one lug nut was found not safely secured after McDowell drove the car to a 15th-place finish in Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer was fined $10,000 for the safety infraction, NASCAR.com reports.
Hopes to Return to FRM
Awarded NASCAR Open Pole
McDowell will start from the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday night.
Fifth-Place at Talladega
McDowell finished fifth in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Monday afternoon.