Sunday, September 16, 2012

CUP: McDowell Scores Third Chicagoland Last-Place Finish, Takes 2012 LASTCAR Cup Series Lead

Michael McDowell picked up the 17th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s GEICO 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway when his unsponsored #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford fell out with rear gear problems after he completed 38 of the race’s 267 laps.

The finish was McDowell’s series-leading 4th of the 2012 season and his first since the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, nine races ago. With nine races to go, McDowell now holds sole possession of the 2012 LASTCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Looking to keep McDowell from his second consecutive title are Scott Riggs, Scott Speed, and Josh Wise, who each trail McDowell by one finish.

McDowell qualified 24th for Sunday’s race at an average speed of 180.276 mph, ranking him a strong second among the race’s "go-or-go-homers" behind 14th-place Trevor Bayne. On Lap 4, last place was held by Cole Whitt, who was making a one-off in place of current Rookie of the Year leader Stephen Leicht in the Joe Falk-owned #33.

Whitt was off the track on Lap 4, but returned to the track around thirty laps into the race, still in 43rd. By this point, Josh Wise’s #26 was now off the track, and he had fallen to the 42nd spot, apparently headed to retake the LASTCAR lead once Whitt got by. However, Wise also returned to the track long enough for McDowell’s parked car to slip by, and the #98 then fell behind Cole Whitt around Lap 70. Whitt and Wise finished nose-to-tail in 37th and 38th, just outside the Bottom Five.

*This was McDowell’s third last-place finish in a Cup race at Chicago (2008, 2011, 2012) and his second in a row. Last year, his #66 James Fund Toyota lost its brakes after 25 laps.
*A Ford had not finished last in a Cup race at Chicago since 2002, when Stuart Kirby’s #57 CLR Ford lost the rear end after 124 laps of the Tropicana 400.
*This was the #98's first last-place finish in a Cup race at Chicago.

43) #98-Michael McDowell / 38 laps / rear gear
42) #19-Mike Bliss / 41 laps / brakes
41) #95-Scott Speed / 49 laps / suspension
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 52 laps / vibration
39) #30-David Stremme / 60 laps / transmission

1st) Michael McDowell (4)
2nd) Scott Riggs, Scott Speed, Josh Wise (3)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, Reed Sorenson, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Trevor Bayne, Landon Cassill, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Brian Vickers (1)

1st) #98-Phil Parsons Racing (4)
2nd) #19-Humphrey-Smith Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #26-Front Row Motorsports (3)
3rd) #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (2)
4th) #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #74-Turn One Racing, #79-Go Green Racing, #83-BK Racing, #91-Humphrey-Smith Racing (1)

1st) Ford (13)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Chevrolet (6)

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