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NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

Source: Meg Oliphant / Getty

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Michael McDowell executed a perfect fuel and tire strategy to get his first win of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season on the IMS road course.

“It’s a dream come true,” McDowell said of winning at Indianapolis. “Man, we had a fast Ford Mustang. These guys gave me everything today. We executed, we did what we needed to do. It felt pretty dominant to me.”

McDowell led 54 of the race’s 82 laps to win the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, in a race that took just two hours and nine minutes to complete and had only one caution on Lap 2.

McDowell started fourth and stayed in the top five all day long, battling with pole-sitter Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott.

McDowell made his first pass for the lead on Lap 6 after a restart for a caution early on when Joey Logano ran into the side of Indiana native Justin Haley sending him into the tire barrier at the beginning of Hulman Blvd.

After that restart it was green flag racing to the end, with McDowell being flawless in saving his fuel and tires, dipping into this road racing background having come up as a road racer in Formula Renault and even the Champ Car World Series before switching to stock car racing in the late 2000’s.

McDowell last pitted with 34 laps to go giving him a long stint to last until the end of the race. Daniel Suarez pitted with him and Elliott at that juncture, but a misstep on his final pit stop cost him valuable time. He would end up 3rd at the race’s end.

In the race’s closing laps, McDowell and Elliott had to navigate lap traffic as Elliott tried to close the gap between he and McDowell. Elliott began to close but ran out of real estate as McDowell kept his tires beneath him to take the checkered flag.

“I was trying to pace myself,” McDowell said. “I wanted to save my tires banking on a late race caution, but when I hit lap traffic I had to push the button and go.”

With the win, McDowell is now locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with just three races left in the regular season.

The Cup Series’ next stop is another road course in Watkins Glen next Sunday.