NASCAR Insider Believes Grids Biggest Underdog Can Pull Off a Miracle in Must-Win Kansas City Outing

Published 09/10/2023, 3:43 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The course of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series is finally unfurling into the second race of the round of 16s. Too many speculations regarding the outcome of this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway are tearing the NASCAR fans apart. Some say RFK Racing star Chris Buescher will display a sequel to his valorous show at Richmond and Michigan. Others predict that Chase Elliott might bring out his road course prowess and get Mr. H his 300th win.

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However, with the resurgence of Front Row Motorsports into the playoff conversation, no one can rule out Michael McDowell. Despite having a dull day at Darlington, NASCAR insiders opine that it is not too late for the Ford icon to lodge a comeback at Kansas.

Michael McDowell in a must-win situation

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The 38-year-old Arizonian, McDowell, did not quite put on a show at Darlington. Failing to score any stage points in the first two stages, he faced his coup de grâce when he found himself in a five-car wreck, following a spin from Todd Gilliland. He was joined in the wreck by Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell. As a result, he finished 32nd with a mere 5 points in the opener.

However, he is called the ‘underdog’ for a reason. Everyone knows how Michael McDowell comes out of nowhere and aces the contention when they least expect it. And that just might be the case in Kansas.

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As the curtains to the J.C.’s Garage parted, co-host David Styles reflected on the contact involving McDowell. “That pretty much knocked McDowell out of the race completely. And that was a huge hit for him because he’s got two other tracks left. But he’s gonna have to race really hard now,” he admitted.

Indeed, moving into the 1.5-mile short track of Kansas, the number 34 team is 19 points below the cutline. J.C. Fickenscher felt like the team could recover the deficit. However, he shed light on the do-or-die situation of Michael McDowell.

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“…for Michael McDowell, I think as of this point, he’s in a must-win position going into Bristol and Kansas,” said Fickenscher, “I think it’s possible; that team can pull something out at Kansas maybe, with a car that they bring has some speed.”

“They could possibly be in contention there, but a lot of things would have to go their way,” he added.

The odds are against McDowell

Michael McDowell was sitting well, coming into the playoffs. But Darlington ruined his day completely. Neither did he have a good car, nor did he show top-tier speed.

Fickenscher admitted, “I think for that team to be in the playoffs is really impressive. But realistically, for them to advance in a must-win, it’s a very slim chance right now.”

Each of the ten playoff races is like a mini-round. You cannot afford to use up your points just like that. Take Martin Truex Jr. for example. He came into the playoffs with a +36 advantage and now he is at a +25, which is great. But considering William Byron at +45 and 4 spots ahead of him in the driver standings, who was in a tie with him previously, it is safe to say that anyone could get bounced at any time.

USA Today via Reuters

David Styles explained that McDowell has got to bring his A-game out consecutively at Kansas and Bristol in order to corkscrew his place in the playoff battle.

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“He hasn’t been super stellar at Bristol but, again, he’s been pretty good at road courses and those short tracks. He’s got a shot,” he concluded.

Although for Kyle Petty, Michael McDowell is in a pit of which he will not be able to climb out. He said, “Michael McDowell. I don’t think they’ll recover from that.”

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Do you agree with Fickenscher or do you agree with Kyle Petty? Do let us know in the comments below.

Track Analysis: What Challenges Does the Kansas Speedway Present to the NASCAR Cup Drivers Ahead of the Second Playoff Race

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Written by:

Soumyadeep Saha

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Soumyadeep is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. He has done his Master's in English Literature and is a semi-professional bodybuilder. He has, in recent years, channelized his love and commitment for motorsports into a building career path.
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Edited by:

Vishav

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