Opportunity to run in the No. 22 comes within heated owner race RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today SPARTA, Ky. -- The last time Michael McDowell was in a NASCAR Nationwide Series ride, he was driving the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing at Iowa Speedway earlier this season. He battled Brad Keselowski in the No. 22 Team Penske ride throughout the final laps, settling for second while Keselowski celebrated in Victory Lane. This weekend at Kentucky Speedway , McDowell will be in that No. 22 for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 as he continues to hunt down his first Nationwide victory. Aside from his own aspirations of a win, McDowell's job is also to keep owner Roger Penske atop the owner standings -- the weight of which won't keep the driver down. "I've been in these sort of high-pressure situations in the past with Joe Gibbs Racing going in over the years," McDowell said. "There's a lot at stake, I realize that, and obviously this is a car that's won four races already this year and runs up front every week. And so the pressure for me is just, I really just take every week the same, I go out there and do the best I can and try to get the most out of the race car that I can, and hopefully the results will come from that." With two top-10 finishes in two Nationwide Series starts this season, McDowell has had a welcome respite from finishing outside of the top 20 as so often happens in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride. McDowell has competed in 13 races in the top national series and earned only two top-20s. In three races, his No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford did not qualify. Racing for a small team has presented its challenges, but competing for top teams in Nationwide has kept them from getting to the driver. "(I've) sort of struggled and had to do a lot of things that you wouldn't think would be ideal in a career: ... not have well-funded programs in both the Nationwide and Cup sides," McDowell said. "And it just made me realize, OK, this is why I stuck in it, and this is why I continue to do what I'm doing -- is for an opportunity like this to drive a great race car for a great organization and hopefully get a shot at Victory Lane, you know, it makes it all worth it for sure." His opportunities with Penske and Gibbs have been beneficial to the small, single-car organization where McDowell spends most of his time. While Leavine Family Racing continues to battle limited funds and a smaller staff than teams like Penske, who provides its equipment, having the chance to be a part of a winning team brings LFR closer to doing so itself. "The opportunities that I've had over the last three or four years in the Nationwide Series, I feel like is what's really kept me in this sport, because I got great opportunities to hop in and get top-fives and a couple of runner-up finishes, and it kind of makes you relative in this sport," McDowell said. "But more than anything for me was, it wasn't so much a confidence boost as it was, 'OK, this is what it needs to feel like, this is where we have to get,' and it allowed me to go back to my Cup programs a little more focused on, 'OK, here's the areas we do well, here's the areas where they do it better.' And that's really helped me be able to bring more to the Cup program." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get the latest Michael McDowell news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Michael McDowell news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Hornish will drive the No. 54 for JGR, McDowell the No. 22 for Penske
Veteran attempts to keep car in Nationwide owner points lead
Late pass sends driver to second win of 2014 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings SPARTA, Ky. -- Brendan Gaughan capitalized on the opportunity to utilize the high line on the final restart of Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway to win his second NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season. Gaughan, with a three-wide pass, powered around leaders Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon in the closing laps and cleared his competition in Turn 1, allowing him to cruise to an eight-tenths of a second lead over Richard Childress Racing teammate Brian Scott . "I love my restarts," Gaughan said in Victory Lane. "It was an awesome restart. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) kept telling me that lap times were great when everyone did two and we did four (tires), so it took us a while to get back (toward the lead) there, but four Goodyear tires in the end were the difference." On the final restart of the night, Dillon and Elliott battled but forgot about the guy behind them. Gaughan, with a head of steam, used momentum to clear his competition with six laps to go and cruised to his second career series win, and first on an oval. He also won June's road-course race at Road America . Richard Childress Racing swept the top-three finishing positions with Scott second and Dillon finishing third after a dominating performance. Gaughan, 39, credited his Earnhardt Childress Racing engine and transmission for assisting him in his triumph over the much younger Elliott (18) and Dillon (22). "There are great race teams and great young race car drivers, but the old dog still has something left," said Gaughan. Scott was on the verge of netting his first career Nationwide victory, but settled for his best performance of the season after restarting sixth. "I thought it was the right call to take four tires at the end," Scott said. "I restarted sixth and got a good restart and got up to fourth and I thought we were going to win this race. But, unfortunately, we didn't get any long runs and our Shore Lodge Camaro was a little too tight." Dillon, who led 155 laps, said, "I'm sick for my guys. Our Bass Pros Chevy was top-notch. It's a good thing for confidence to lead all those laps, but this hurts for sure." Dillon's dominance would be challenged on Lap 171 when Cody Ware lost an engine. The fifth caution flag of the night proved to be a significant break for the leaders, as they avoided green flag pit stops. On pit road, Dillon exercised a two-tire stop with fuel with Chase Elliott , Michael McDowell and Elliott Sadler also on the same strategy. Racing resumed with Chase Elliott making a valiant effort to overtake the lead from Dillon. He was able to nip ahead of Dillon's No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, when Eric McClure crashed in Turn 4. With 19 laps to go, Elliott fended off a challenge from Dillon on the initial restart, but his opportunity to stretch his lead would be short-lived, after Regan Smith made contact with Sam Hornish Jr . on Lap 184, sending him hard into the Turn 1 wall. A flawless restart from Elliott allowed the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet to escape the hungry pack behind him. Again, Elliott's gap would be diminished by yet another caution for debris on Lap 190 -- which would prove the difference in the race. Leaving Kentucky, fourth place finisher Elliott holds a 20-point cushion over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith in the championship standings with six races remaining. Next up for the NASCAR Nationwide Series is a trip to Dover International Speedway on Sept. 27. Joey Logano is the defending champion. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Keselowski tops Cup practice; Crafton, Jones, Custer top Truck sessions RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Sprint Cup Series Practice 1 " RESULTS Already in the hunt for his second straight win and a sweep of New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the season, Brad Keselowski topped opening Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday morning in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Team Penske driver ran just 12 laps, but found enough speed in his No. 2 Ford on his final run around the Magic Mile to best the field with a speed of 138.421 mph. The top 10 was chock-full of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, save for Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray (137.890 mph) and Kyle Larson (137.631 mph), who both ran well at Chicagoland last week and placed second and fifth, respectively, in Friday's opening session. After McMurray, 12 of the next 14 drivers on the chart were all postseason contenders, with the top five rounded out by Dale Earnhardt Jr . (3rd, 137.825 mph) and Kasey Kahne (4th, 137.661 mph). Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson was the slowest Chase driver, pulling in 29th with a speed of 135.699 mph. Just over 50 minutes into the session, practice was halted for debris on the track. Nationwide Series final practice " RESULTS A Richard Childress Racing driver led final NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Kentucky Speedway , just not the one most would have expected. Rookie Cale Conley , on a part-time schedule this season, circled the 1.5-mile speedway at a clip of 175.404 mph to take top honors in the final 60-minute session. He also led the field with most laps run at 53. RCR's Brian Scott (175.075 mph), who drives the No. 2 Chevrolet, finished third in the standings after coming in second in the opening session. Scott is fifth in the standings, 56 points behind leader Chase Elliott . A late push from Trevor Bayne put his No. 6 Ford into second on the speed chart (175.239 mph). Sam Hornish Jr . (174.944 mph) and Chris Buescher (174.419) rounded out the top five, with RCR's Ty Dillon (174.323 mph) coming in sixth. Elliott finished eighth (174.087 mph) with his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith in 16th. Smith trails Elliott in the standings by 18 points. Next up is Coors Light Pole Qualifying, scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET. The VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 follows at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNEWS). Nationwide Series practice 1 " RESULTS Richard Childress Racing opened up the weekend strong, placing all three of its cars in the top four placers in opening Nationwide Series practice for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS) at Kentucky Speedway in Lexington, Kentucky. Brian Scott was at the helm, leading the charge with a best speed of 173.980 mph to finish second fiddle to practice topper Chris Buescher (174.701). Brendan Gaughan (173.210) and RCR rookie Ty Dillon (173.205) were right behind Scott. Sam Hornish Jr. , filling in for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 this weekend, placed fifth on the charts at 173.082. Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott was eighth overall at 172.629, while Michael McDowell , driving the defending race-winning No. 22 Ford, was 11th overall at 172.348. Camping World Truck Series Practice 1 " RESULTS Rookie driver Erik Jones paced the first of three Camping World Truck Series practices at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday morning in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver posted a best speed of 131.925 mph on his 35th of 36 laps around the Magic Mile. Jones ousted reigning champion Matt Crafton from the top of the leaderboard in the closing seconds of practice, besting the ThorSport driver's speed of 131.035 mph. Sixteen-year-old Cole Custer , set to make just his seventh NASCAR National Series start in Saturday's UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FS1), was third on the leaderboard with a speed of 131.031 mph -- 0.001 seconds off Crafton's pace. Joey Coulter (130.999 mph) and Ryan Blaney (130.864 mph) rounded out the top five. Positions six through nine were occupied by Toyota drivers in Darrell Wallace Jr . (130.846 mph), Johnny Sauter (130.260 mph) and Red Horse Racing teammates Timothy Peters (129.754 mph) and German Quiroga (129.648 mph). Camping World Truck Series practice 2 " RESULTS In the second of three scheduled Camping World Truck Series practices, reigning champion Matt Crafton topped the leaderboard on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Crafton's late-session best speed of 132.347 mph shot him past Cameron Hayley , who placed second with a best speed of 131.433. Gray Gaulding (131.180 mph), Joey Coulter (131.044 mph) and Timothy Peters (130.815 mph) rounded out the top five. First session leader Erik Jones was ninth at 130.385 mph. Camping World Truck Series final practice " RESULTS LOUDON, N.H. -- NASCAR Next driver Cole Custer cruised to the top of the speed charts in final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Custer, 16, turned a lap of 133.226 mph in the Haas Racing Development No. 00 Chevrolet in preparation for Saturday's UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Custer, who is scheduled to make just the seventh Truck Series start of his career here, also won the pole position in June at Gateway Motorsports Park, a track of similar length with similar short-track characteristics. Ryan Blaney, 20 years old and third in the series standings, was second-fastest in the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Ford at 133.007 mph. Erik Jones , another NASCAR Next class member at age 18, ran the most laps (63) and was third-best at 132.924 mph, just ahead of Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Darrell Wallace Jr ., a two-time winner this season. Tyler Reddick completed the top five in another Keselowski-owned truck. Points leader Matt Crafton , the defending series champion, was ninth-fastest of the 26 drivers who participated in the 85-minute finalsession. Saturday's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for a 10:10 a.m. ET start, broadcast on FOX Sports 1. The race is the 17th Truck Series event hosted by New Hampshire, but the first for the 1.058-mile track since 2011. -- Zack Albert MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
See the order the drivers will roll off in (Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET) RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today # Car Driver Team 1 22 Michael McDowell (i) Discount Tire Ford 2 54 Sam Hornish Jr. Monster Energy Toyota 3 40 Matt DiBenedetto Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 4 72 * John Jackson CrashClaimsR.us Chevrolet 5 11 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Toyota 6 43 Dakoda Armstrong # WinField Ford 7 60 Chris Buescher # Roush Performance Parts Ford 8 28 JJ Yeley Texas 28 Spirits Stage Dodge 9 42 Dylan Kwasniewski # Up & Up Chevrolet 10 52 Joey Gase Chevrolet 11 31 Chase Pistone(i) Chevrolet 12 44 Blake Koch Centershot Toyota 13 55 Jamie Dick Viva Auto Group Chevrolet 14 33 * Cale Conley (i) IAVA Chevrolet 15 01 Landon Cassill G&K Services Chevrolet 16 46 * Ryan Ellis Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 17 19 Mike Bliss TriStar Motorsports Toyota 18 17 * Tanner Berryhill # NationalCashLenders.com Dodge 19 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Bandit Chevrolet 20 13 * Carl Long OCR Gaz Bar Dodge 21 80 * Ross Chastain (i) ADVICS/CMW Toyota 22 93 Kevin Swindell JGL Racing Dodge 23 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 24 14 Eric McClure Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap Toyota 25 87 Josh Reaume Lilly Trucking Ford 26 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/AllSouthElectric.com Chevrolet 27 20 Justin Boston(i) Zloop Toyota 28 5 * Austin Theriault Maine Open for Business Chevrolet 29 74 * Mike Harmon WCIParts.com Dodge 30 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 31 99 James Buescher ToyotaCare Toyota 32 7 Regan Smith TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet 33 3 Ty Dillon # Bass Pros Shops Chevrolet 34 23 Carlos Contreras 38 Special/Voli Chevrolet 35 10 * Jeff Green SupportMilitary.org Toyota 36 16 Ryan Reed # ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Ford 37 39 Ryan Sieg # RSS Racing Chevrolet 38 9 Chase Elliott # NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 39 2 Brian Scott Shore Lodge Chevrolet 40 70 * Derrike Cope youtheory Chevrolet 41 89 * Morgan Shepherd Courtney Construction Chevrolet MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Michael McDowell says his second place finish was bittersweet because he was so close to a win, while Sam Hornish Jr. was happy with his car, but disappointed with the results.
See how they will lineup for Sunday's race (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Pos Car Driver Team 1 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 2 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 3 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 4 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 5 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 6 15 Clint Bowyer PEAK Radiator Guarantee Toyota 7 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 8 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet 9 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 10 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 11 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 12 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 13 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 14 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 15 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 16 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's/Samsung Partner of the Year Toyota 17 47 AJ Allmendinger Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet 18 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 19 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 20 16 Greg Biffle ScotchBlue Ford 21 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 22 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 23 43 Aric Almirola Eckrich Ford 24 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 25 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 26 51 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 27 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 28 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 29 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 30 38 David Gilliland Love's Travel Stops Ford 31 83 Ryan Truex # Burger King Toyota 32 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Ford 33 26 Cole Whitt # Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota 34 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 35 7 Michael Annett # TMC/Allstate Chevrolet 36 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 37 23 Alex Bowman # Dr Pepper Toyota 38 40 Landon Cassill(i) Snap Fitness Chevrolet 39 34 David Ragan Dockside Ford 40 37 Mike Bliss(i) Accell Construction, Inc. Chevrolet 41 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Royal Teak Toyota 42 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 43 32 Joey Gase(i) Zimmer Ford MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView