(Cover Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
By Adam Carabine
In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.
24th Place – Michael McDowell – 662 pts
FRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS – FORD
9,380 Laps Completed in 2022 – Michael McDowell might not be the one you expected to complete the most laps in 2022. With only 2 DNFs, McDowell managed to keep his car clean all year, and that put him at the top of the field for laps completed. He failed to complete only 103 laps all year. The 2nd best in this category was eventual 2022 Champion, Joey Logano.
24 Lead Lap Finishes in 2022 – What makes the previous stat interesting is that Michael McDowell was clearly not the fastest car on the track this year. Having 24 lead lap finishes is nothing to scoff at, but it also ties for 15th of all Cup Series charters. So clearly McDowell was still getting lapped by the leaders (in 12 races, at least). What set him apart was his ability to limit his losses. Aside from the 2 DNFs on the year, he rarely finished more than one or two laps down.
16.72 Average Finish in 2022 – This was the best average finish of Michael McDowell’s career… and it wasn’t even close. This is his 3rd consecutive career-best average finish, and last year’s now 2nd best average finish was 20.47. When McDowell won the 2021 Daytona 500, it was clear that some things were starting to click for him and his team. While he still remains winless since, his overall performance continues to improve. Can he make 2023 another best year?
12 Top-10s in 2022 – Again another milestone for the driver of the No. 34, McDowell’s previous career high was 2021, where he only scored 5. A big deal was made about the Next-Gen car evening the playing field for some of the smaller teams. While not every smaller team improved as drastically, the crew at Front Row Motorsports clearly figured something out.
0.23% Career Winning Percentage – Michael McDowell’s lone Cup Series win came at the 2021 Daytona 500. With now 427 Cup Series races under his belt, that puts him at a winning percentage of 0.23%, which is in the Bottom-5 All-Time! It’s hard to believe that the same Michael McDowell who was finishing with 29 DNFs on a season and an average finish of around 39 from ten years ago is now occasionally competing for wins and putting up career numbers. Only 4 other drivers started more races with a single win, and they are all retired. If McDowell continues driving for a few more years (and remains winless), he may be able to take the all-time crown. Here’s hoping (for McDowell’s sake) that he gets another win soon to put this theory to bed!
Michael McDowell will return in 2023 to the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. McDowell’s crew chief from 2022, Blake Harris, has been scooped up by Hendrick Motorsports to crew chief for Alex Bowman next year, so Travis Peterson will be atop the pit box for McDowell in 2023.