CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Michael McDowell was still digging his fifth place at the Daytona 500 when Joey Logano appeared at the front of his car, angrily pointing the Ford logo.
He questioned McDowell's loyalty to the brand.
"He shows the Ford emblem, pushes on the Ford, explaining:" Hey, you're a Ford driver, why did not you push me? McDowell told The Associated Press on Tuesday, "It's a two-way street, and if I got out of the car and started screaming at Joey not to come with me, everyone would say that I I'm ridiculous and I do not belong here and I'm not fast enough, God forbid me not to push him to win, now I'm the bad guy. "
The tension between two Ford drivers is the result of a disappointing Daytona 500 for the blue oval brand. The manufacturer introduced its new Mustang at Daytona International Speedway and positioned its group of drivers among the big favorites to win "The Great American Race". Most builders decided that their teams would work together at Daytona and Talladega in order to get one of their drivers – no matter who – in the track of victories.
Ford missed the final checkered flag sprint Sunday, possibly because McDowell changed lanes from Logano. Both drivers were trying to win, but they probably had to work together to have a chance to catch the winner Denny Hamlin. Instead, Ford was found stuck after a podium sweep by Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Logano finished fourth ahead of McDowell.
McDowell did not want to hear brand loyalty the day after the race: "I just told him that my team does not pay me to push Joey Logano to victory."
McDowell is without a win in 286 Cup starts since 2008 and does not lead for any of the NASCAR superstar teams. Last season, he joined Front Row Motorsports, one of NASCAR's smallest teams, and placed in the Top 10, but was tied for a 26th career finish in the Cup final standings. .
"I do not have a lot of chances to win races," McDowell said. "I have maybe four or five shots a year trying to win a race. These other guys, they have 35 more chances. I had to take my chance to win a race. "
Logano is the reigning NASCAR champion and a former Daytona 500 winner.
So when McDowell found himself alongside the leaders in the last rounds of the Daytona 500, he fought for the win without having the time to consider team alliances. He pulled out of the lane way, away from Logano, and tried to hang on to Kyle Busch in the top lane. This decision prevented Logano from attempting to catch Hamlin for the win.
McDowell watched the reruns, discussed with Logano and Ford executives, and said that he now realized that his best bet for a win would have been to stay behind Logano.
"You have a decision in a split second to act and I have had the momentum needed and I thought it was best to go outside." and I thought it was the right choice, "McDowell said. "Looking back, if I could do it again, the bottom would have been better for me."
He remains categorical: it was not his responsibility to help Logano to win.
Teamwork between manufacturers can work, but it often depends on the place of the drivers in the alliance.
The Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing teams are Ford's great assets. McDowell and Front Row Motorsports seem like distant cousins. McDowell stated that he, David Ragan and their teams were not aware of Penske's and SHR's strategy at Daytona; SHR driver Clint Bowyer wove McDowell late in the race, allowing McDowell to fall into a slower center lane, then cut off McDowell to create another car crash as Bowyer attempted to clear a path.
"These guys do not work at all with Front Row Motorsports," McDowell said. "They do not help us at all. They want us to be there to support them when they need them, but they do not let us know when they are going to fly, they do not share the strategy, they do not tell us what's going on. That's why my frustration with Joey is, "Do not talk to me about brand loyalty when you're not doing anything to help us. And you want me to help you when you do nothing for us? "
McDowell's results were the best in the Daytona 500. He was ninth in the Cup standings as NASCAR moved to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend with a new rules package designed to increase competition on the road. Track. The idea of the rules is to slow down the cars to bring them closer and improve the passing opportunities.
If it works, drivers like McDowell may still be able to compete with the big teams. McDowell has seven career top 10 finishes, all but one at Daytona or Talladega.
"If this package runs like Daytona and Talladega, I will be in an ideal position," said McDowell. "Let's hope we can have some strengths and put ourselves in a position to make noise."
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