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July 30, 2022

No shift in approach for McDowell, No. 34 team after L2-level penalty

Michael McDowell's No. 34 Ford navigates the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
Alejandro Alvarez
NASCAR Digital Media

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Michael McDowell said Saturday that his team is pushing forward after the heavy penalty that sent his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports outfit tumbling down the NASCAR Cup Series standings.

The fallout from the L2-grade violations — found in a thorough post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research & Development Center — are under appeal by the Bob Jenkins-owned organization. But no matter the outcome of that process, McDowell said the No. 34 team’s plan of attack remains unchanged.

RELATED: Indy weekend schedule | No. 34 FRM team penalized

“I think we’ll just see what happens,” McDowell said Saturday after Busch Light Pole Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. “They’re gonna go through that process. I don’t know all the details, never been in this kind of situation, but you know the deal. The fact of the matter is: Last week, we needed to win a race to get in the playoffs, and now we still need to win a race to get in the playoffs. So we’re just going to focus on winning this race.”

McDowell is set to start a solid seventh in Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, IMS Radio, SiriusXM) at the 2.439-mile circuit. He enters the race 26th in the Cup Series points — six spots lower than he initially was pegged after last weekend’s event at Pocono Raceway.

The penalty concerned the modification of a single-source supplied part in the body or vehicle assembly. The punishment meant a 100-point penalty in both the driver and team owner standings, plus a four-race suspension and $100,000 fine for crew chief Blake Harris. Harris is with the team this weekend at IMS, working with the No. 34 team while the appeal date is pending.

The severe infraction takes a bit of the glow off a steady recent run of finishes for McDowell, who has posted top-10 results in three of the last six races. The 37-year-old driver is already at a career-best in top 10s, recording eight already through 21 starts this season.

“I think that, obviously, it lights a fire, but I think we’ve been on fire already,” McDowell said. “I mean, we’ve been crushing it here lately.”