Michael McDowell wins first Xfinity Series race at Road America

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Michael McDowell survived a rash of cautions inside the final 10 laps of the Road America 180 and then held off his teammate, Brendan Gaughan, for his first career win Saturday afternoon.

In his 94th Xfinity Series start, and his first since 2014, McDowell led 24 of the race’s 48 laps driving the No. 2 for Richard Childress Racing. He took the lead for the final time with 19 laps to go, after making contact with Alex Tagliani. Tagliani won the pole in the No. 22 for Team Penske and was dominant early, but he never recovered from the contact and failed to contend for the win.

As for Richard Childress Racing, it was the third consecutive year the organization was victorious at Road America.

The top five were McDowell, Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez, and Ryan Reed.

“It’s huge, I’m so thankful and blessed,” McDowell told NBCSN in victory lane. “Thank God, first and foremost. RCR, Rheem, this Chevrolet was super fast. I’ve got to thank all of my guys back in Michigan, Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing for letting me be here, they know how bad I wanted this victory at Road America. So thankful to do it.

“(Crew chief) Justin Alexander, all the guys called the right shots. I had track position there at the end when we needed it and this ECR Chevy was on rails, it was awesome.”

McDowell competes full-time in the Sprint Cup Series for Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing and received a one-race deal in the No. 2 with RCR for Road America. Following the victory, he will fly to Michigan International Speedway to compete in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race.

HOW MCDOWELL WON: McDowell took the lead on Lap 29 and never relinquished it.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Brennan Poole had a quiet day and finished third … Ryan Reed scored his first top-five finish of the season with a fifth-place effort … Darrell Wallace Jr.‘s ninth-place finish was his first top-10 in three road course starts this year … JJ Yeley finished 10th, which was his first top-10 finish of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Erik Jones was spun with two laps to go and finished 21st … Justin Marks ran inside the top 10 throughout most of the event but was spun on the last lap and finished 32nd … Garrett Smithley earned his second DNF of the season after crashing on Lap 2 and finishing 40th.

NOTABLE: Michael McDowell became the third first-time winner this season following Justin Marks (Mid-Ohio), and Daniel Suarez (Michigan). McDowell is also the fourth first-time Xfinity Series winner at Road America, the others being Nelson Piquet Jr. (2012), AJ Allmendinger (2013), and Brendan Gaughan (2014).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I love this racetrack. It didn’t matter if it rained or it was dry, I know I’m the guy who wants it wet, but I didn’t care either way. I love this track.” — Brendan Gaughan

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity Series makes their first and only visit to Darlington Raceway for the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 on Sept. 3 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

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