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June 10, 2024

Finishing in second place nets Michael McDowell a career first

The No. 34 of Michael McDowell drives in the esses at Sonoma, ahead of Ty Gibbs

When Michael McDowell passed a fuel-strapped Martin Truex Jr. in the final turns Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, he scored more than just a season-high second-place finish … he secured a first, too.

No, not a race win. McDowell finished runner-up for the very first time in his 481-race NASCAR Cup Series career.

It’s a notable milestone because it now means the veteran has completed the All 40 Challenge — the name for our just-for-fun statistical category that tracks a driver’s progression of checking off every possible finishing position at least once throughout their careers from first to 40th.

Yes, prior to Sunday, second place was all that eluded the Daytona 500 winner McDowell — but now, he joins 12 fellow full-time competitors in the All 40 club.

RELATED: More on ‘All 40’

Before McDowell, the most recent driver to complete the All 40 Challenge was Ross Chastain last month when his 11th-place finish at Darlington Raceway checked the last box off his list. Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez and Bubba Wallace might be next; each driver is only one spot shy of All 40.

So, while a win would have been big for McDowell’s season, a P2 is a breakthrough, too — in a different way.