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Verizon 200: Michael McDowell Dominates Indy, Clinches Playoff Berth


Michael McDowell celebrates his Indy win with his wife and kids.
Michael McDowell celebrates at yard of bricks with his family. (Photo: Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell put on a clinic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course to earn his second career NASCAR Cup Series win in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.


McDowell led 54 of 82 laps at the IMS Road Course and earned 59 of 60 points en route to clinching his spot in the Cup Series Playoffs.


McDowell was on the bubble heading into the race, knowing he needed to have a great outing. Little did he know that a near-caution-free event would put him in Victory Lane for the first time since winning the 2021 Daytona 500.


"Oh, man, this is such a dream come true," McDowell said. "I’m so thankful to everybody at Front Row Motorsports, Bob Jenkins, Horizon Hobbies, Fr8 Auctions, Chicago Pneumatic. Man, we had a fast Ford Mustang. We had the fastest car. We executed, and we did what we needed to do.


"Just so thankful, so thankful to still be grinding it out 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."


McDowell held off a hard charge late in the race from Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, who is in a must-win situation to make the postseason. Even one of the best road-course racers in NASCAR couldn't catch the No. 34 Ford.


"Just really appreciate the effort, man, " Elliott said. "Our Napa Chevy was really good, really good," Elliott said. "Just needed just a little bit more and came up a bit short. But congrats to Michael, man. He did a good job. Ran a great race and stayed mistake-free, and that’s what you’ve got to do to win."


Another bubble driver that had an impressive day was Trackhouse Racing's Daniel Suárez. The driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet started on the pole and finished in the top three in both stages to earn 51 points and close the gap toward the final playoff spot.


Suárez might've had a shot to win the race if a slow pit stop didn't put him at a disadvantage in a race that lacked caution flags.


"I mean, we win and we lose as a team, and that’s all I can say," Suárez. "The guys brought a very fast race car. I felt that maybe we were one adjustment behind in the first run with the back of the car, but then we made it a little bit better.


"But I felt like I was always one step behind the 9 and the 34, and then at the end, I felt that when my car came alive again, we had that issue."

Results from the 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard are listed below.

2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard Race Results

Other Race Facts

Shane van Gisbergen waves at the fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
Shane van Gisbergen led the group of international drivers competing at Indianapolis, with his second top-10 finish in his second career start in the NASCAR Cup Series. (Photo: Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

The amount of playoff spots remaining has decreased with Michael McDowell winning his way in. With two races to go, there are only three spots remaining. Both Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski will be locked in if there's a repeat winner next weekend at Watkins Glen, leaving just one spot up for grabs entering the regular-season finale at Daytona.


Bubba Wallace currently sits above the cut line in the 16th and final playoff position, but both Daniel Suárez and Ty Gibbs can mathematically point themselves in if there are no new winners and Wallace has two low-scoring races to close out the regular season.


With an impressive second-place finish, Chase Elliott now averages 28.24 points per race. Elliott's average is the sixth highest in the Cup Series for drivers, who have completed at least half of the races.


Seven different countries were represented in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, including two drivers making their Cup debuts. Here is a list of how the five foreign drivers finished (not including Daniel Suárez from Mexico).

  • Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand): 10th (Repco Supercars Championship)

  • Brodie Kostecki (Australia): 22nd (Repco Supercars Championship)

  • Mike Rockenfeller (Germany): 24th (IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship)

  • Jenson Button (United Kingdom): 28th (Formula 1)

  • Kamui Kobayashi (Japan): 33rd (FIA World Endurance Championship)

GRID RANKING

The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.


Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 19 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.

DRIVER

OLD RATING

PREVIOUS RANKING

MOST RECENT FINISH

NEW RATING

NEW RANKING

Martin Truex Jr.

11.77

17th

7th

11.64

17th

William Byron

10.83

20th

14th

10.38

21st

Kyle Busch

10.46

21st

36th

10.02

23rd

Kyle Larson

10.08

24th

8th

9.90

24th

Denny Hamlin

10.02

26th

19th

9.60

28th

Week 20 of the GRID Ranking:

The next race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Go Bowling At The Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, Aug. 20. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.


GRID NETWORK

GRID Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/GRIDRanking

GRID Ranking: https://twitter.com/GridRanking

GRID TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@gridnetwork

GRID Buy Me A Coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/gridnetwork

GRID Website: https://www.gridranking.com/

GRID History: https://twitter.com/Grid_History

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