NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael McDowell is eager to return to Bristol Motor Speedway, where he hopes to use past experience and current momentum to secure a solid finish and turn heads in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
McDowell and Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing are deemed underdogs in the Sprint Cup Series, as they are a small, one-car team. With the team’s recent string of Top-25 finishes and solid qualifying efforts, they look to turn heads and continue their successful streak at Bristol.
McDowell, who will pilot the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet, has recorded twelve Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol with his best start being 19th in 2015. He secured his best finish (18th) during the 2014 season with Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing. McDowell has also recorded a Top-10 and two Top-20 finishes in the XFINITY Series at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
As a half-mile, high-banked oval, traditional stock car drivers are expected to perform well at Bristol. McDowell, who cut his teeth racing on road courses, would love to surprise the competition with a win at Bristol.
“You want to win everywhere, but to me, Bristol is just overall one of the most challenging races that we do,” said McDowell. “It’s long, it’s hard to pass, and it’s hard to miss the accidents. It’s just a great short track, so with my road racing background, if you win a road race it’s still awesome, but it wouldn’t be as exciting as it would be for me as a road racer to win at a short track like Bristol.”
Steve Barkdoll, spotter for the No. 95 team, is also thrilled to return to Bristol, as the Flat Rock, N.C. native considers it his home track.
“Spotting at Bristol is so intense,” said Barkdoll. “Your peripheral vision is at work all night. You can’t relax, even under caution. However it’s a spotter’s X-Games, and I personally love it.”
McDowell is looking forward to Saturday night with Barkdoll’s help from the spotter’s stand, especially as he balances being aggressive but also patient on the track.
“Patience is really the key, especially at tracks like Bristol,” said McDowell. “You still have to be aggressive and persistent, but patience is my main focus.”
Thrivent Financial will be the primary sponsor of the No. 95 Chevrolet during the Bristol race weekend. Thrivent is a Fortune 500, not-for-profit membership organization of Christians. Offering a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities and mutual funds, Thrivent helps its members be wise with money and live generously.
The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race will take place on Saturday, August 20 at 8:00 P.M. ET. Race fans can tune-in to NBCSN for live-coverage and follow @CSLFR95 on Twitter for updates from the team.
About Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing
Formed in 2016, Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing and Bob and Sharon Leavine, owners of Leavine Family Racing teamed up to compete in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. The team will field the No. 95 Chevrolet SS, which will be driven by Michael McDowell as well as Ty Dillon in select races. The team operates out of their Concord, N.C.-based race shop with a veteran group of racing personnel and is driven by several core principals including Value, Integrity, Flexibility, Opportunity, Access and Experience. For more information, please visit www.CSLFR95.com.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!