Last year, Michael McDowell got off to a strong start. After starting 22nd in the Daytona 500, he finished ninth despite suffering crash damage in one of the incidents. His only other top 10 came in week seven at Texas – once again in a race that was plagued by incidents. McDowell finished 14th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. He was two laps off the pace.
After his second top-15 (and final) of the year, things went bad quickly. McDowell crashed barely nine laps into the race at Bristol and finished 38th. Making that even more frustrating for both the driver and fantasy players is that he qualified ninth, showed a lot of promise in practice, and lost significant place-differential points in the process. The next week he was running at the end of the Richmond race, but still finished in the 30s. His crash-induced 32nd at Talladega in April gave him three straight results in the 30s.
McDowell was a decent value a few more times in the season. He finished 16th at Pocono (July) and Phoenix (November), was 17th in the Brickyard 400, and had a total of 10 top-20s (27.8%), but those results were sporadic enough that players had a difficult time deciding when to risk starting the No. 34.
McDowell’s best streak was in June. He finished on the lead lap in three consecutive races at Pocono, Michigan, and Sonoma with results ranging from 21st to 25th. After that, he finished on the lead lap only four more times in the last 20 races of the season.
In 2019, McDowell’s best value to players will come on the road courses. Both Sonoma and Watkins Glen count among his three best tracks and with few road ringers making their way onto the roster and the loss of AJ Allmendinger this season, there is a serious need for a driver who will fly under the radar.
Three Best Tracks
Daytona (25.5 in 18 attempts)
Sonoma (26.1 in 7)
Watkins Glen (29.2 in 10)
Three Worst Tracks
Chicagoland (37.3 in 9)
Auto Club (37.1 in 9)
Atlanta (36.5 in 10)
Victories: None (Best finish = 9th – Daytona 500)
Top-fives: 0 (.000)
Top-10s: 1 (.028)
Top-15s: 2 (.056)