Michael McDowell picked up the 22nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Saturday’s NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford overheated after 44 of the race’s 334 laps.
The finish was McDowell’s third of 2013 and his second in a row, giving him the lead in the 2013 NASCAR Cup Series standings.
McDowell qualified 37th for the race at an average speed of 190.698 mph, making his the fastest car to have to rely on Owner Points in order to start the race. He was still able to bump out Scott Speed and Scott Riggs, who both failed to qualify.
In Saturday’s race, McDowell lost a lap early when he pitted for an overheating problem. It was speculated that he would fall out of the race to aid an ailing Bobby Labonte, who was suffering from a bad case of stomach flu. Labonte’s #47 Bush’s Beans / Kingsford / Scott Toyota team had originally made an arrangement with Mike Bliss, driver of the unsponsored #19 Humphrey-Smith Motorsports Toyota, to park and relieve Labonte. However, since Scott Riggs failed to qualify his #44, Bliss was ordered to stay out for nearly half the race in order to pad his advantage over Riggs in Owner Points in hopes of securing a provisional starting spot in a later race. Thus, when McDowell returned to the track after his unscheduled stop, Labonte had no choice but to pull behind the wall and fall to 43rd.
McDowell finally parked after 44 laps, and was now tabbed to relieve Labonte. There, the #47 faced another challenge as McDowell was too big for Labonte’s custom-made seat. Somehow, the team managed to get McDowell into the car, and he returned to the track long enough to shuffle his own #98 back to 43rd. While McDowell was in Labonte’s car, FOX’s crawl of the running order updated with McDowell’s name in the #47, and the #98's driver name changed to “Driver Out.” The names were switched back after Lap 185, when the engine let go on Labonte’s #47, taking McDowell out of the race once more. Labonte was credited with a 42nd place finish, two laps behind Mike Bliss, who finally exited after 140 laps.
*This was the first last-place finish in a Cup race at Texas for the #98 since 2004, when Todd Bodine’s #98 Lucas Oil Products Ford lost the engine after 5 laps of the Samsung / Radio Shack 500.
*This was McDowell’s first last-place finish in a Cup Series race at Texas. Team co-owner Phil Parsons, however, finished last twice in this race with Dave Blaney in 2009 and 2010 as co-owner of PRISM Motorsports.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #98-Michael McDowell / 44 laps / overheating
42) #47-Bobby Labonte / 138 laps / engine
41) #19-Mike Bliss / 140 laps / brakes
40) #17-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 290 laps / running
39) #36-J.J. Yeley / 293 laps / rear axle
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Michael McDowell (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss (2)
3rd) Joe Nemechek, Scott Riggs (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #98-Phil Parsons Racing (3)
2nd) #19-Humphrey-Smith Motorsports (2)
3rd) #44-Xxxtreme Motorsports, #87-NEMCO Motorsports (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (4)
2nd) Toyota (3)