Friday 5: Michael McDowell’s victory continues trend in NASCAR

Michael McDowell’s recent victory at Indianapolis demonstrated the potential of a team with equal equipment. The introduction of the Next Gen car aimed to increase competition and give more Cup teams and drivers a shot at winning. This season has witnessed a similar trend with McDowell’s win, marking the third consecutive race and fourth time this year that a driver with over 250 Cup starts and fewer than five victories has come out on top. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started the season by winning the Daytona 500 in his 365th career start, which was his third career victory. Chris Buescher claimed his third career victory at Richmond last month in his 279th start, followed by a win at Michigan the next weekend for his fourth win in 280 starts. McDowell secured his second career victory at the Indy road course in his 453rd start. These wins highlight the success of smaller organizations like JTG Daugherty Racing, RFK Racing, and Front Row Motorsports, which have collectively won five races out of the 60 races run with the Next Gen car. This demonstrates a significant improvement, considering that these teams only won a total of four races between 2015 and 2021, with a winning percentage of 1.6%. While these victories may not be considered flukes, it remains to be seen whether Ford’s recent success in the Cup Series is solely due to the manufacturer or factors like the struggles of other teams. Overall, the advent of the Next Gen car has provided middle-tier teams a better chance to compete against the top teams, narrowing the gap and potentially leading to more intense races.

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