Michael McDowell edges Brendan Gaughan in NXS at Road America

BY foxsports • August 27, 2016

Michael McDowell felt like he had unfinished business at Road America and in the XFINITY Series.

He took care of it Saturday, winning the Road America 180 at the challenging 4-mile, 14-turn road course.

"It's huge. I'm so thankful and so blessed," McDowell said.

McDowell was the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver doing double duty this weekend, driving in the XFINITY Series race as well as in Sunday's Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Road America, located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, is 372 miles away from MIS in Brooklyn, Michigan -- so it wasn't an easy commute when it came to balancing both races for McDowell.

"I've got to thank all my guys back at Michigan, too, and at Leavine Family Racing (which fields his Cup car)," McDowell said. "They know how bad I wanted this victory at Road America, and I'm so thankful to get it."

Driving for Richard Childress Racing, he outdueled fellow RCR driver Brendan Gaughan at the finish to claim an emotional victory.

Gaughan finished second, with Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Reed rounding out the top five.

"We just had to give it all we had, and it came right down to the end," Gaughan said. "Our Southpoint Chevy was great all day and Michael McDowell in his Richard Childress Racing Chevy was awesome, too."

McDowell, who is considered a fine road-course driver, had not raced in the XFINITY Series in two years. It was his first series win in 94 career starts.

It also was McDowell's first victory in his 297th career start across NASCAR's top three national touring series.

Furthermore, he had come tantalizingly close to winning at Road America previously, only to come up short. He started from the pole at the track in 2011, but finished 12th. And in 2012, he started second and finished second.

This time, he finished the job, even though Gaughan made a run at him on newer tires at the end.

"We definitely had speed, but he had the newer tires and he was obviously fast," McDowell said. "He raced me hard. He did a great job. But he had an opportunity to get to my bumper there. I drove it in as hard as I could (on the final turn) to try to prevent him from getting there.

"I'm so thankful to get to Victory Lane. And now I can't wait to get to Michigan."