NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300: Qualifying, Michael McDowell’s Quirky Pole Position, Lineup At World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway

michael mcdowell wins pole at gateway (1)

Utilizing a quirky strategy Saturday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Galway, NASCAR Cup Series driver Michael McDowell remains on a qualifying roll.

After claiming his first career start on the inside of the front row at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season, the lame-duck Front Row Motorsports driver captured his third pole position by going against a trend of other circuit drivers attempting to qualify for Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300.

McDowell and Austin Cindric elected to downshift to third gear along Turns 3 and 4. They were the lone drivers to execute the game plan during the final round. The extra effort helped McDowell turn in a hot qualifying lap of 138.598 mph, topping the 36-machine field.

McDowell is a former Daytona 500 winner who started on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway. He’ll do so again at the irregular 1.25-mile flat track in Madison, Ill.

“I had more pressure to execute my part on a flat track like this, where you’re upshifting twice, downshifting twice … heavy brake zones — all those things,” McDowell said via “So it’s more rewarding from that point to go out there and execute and do it.”

Cindric will start alongside McDowell after finishing 0.109 seconds behind the fellow Ford pilot.

“In particular at Talladega and Atlanta, the driver’s not a big part of whether you’re going to qualify well,” McDowell said. “You still have to execute. You still have to get through the gears. I don’t want to take anything away from that standpoint, but it really is a matter of how fast a race car your team brought you.

“Even today, we’re on the pole because I have a really fast race car.”

Stewart-Haas Racing Going Dark After Season

In a move that has been rumored, Stewart-Haas Racing on Tuesday confirmed the organization’s Cup Series four-garage team will be disbanded following the season.

Co-owner Tony Stewart met with four drivers, Josh Berry, Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece, to deliver the news. All four, along with pit crew members, will become “free agents.”

“I know how much people have invested with their time and careers at Stewart-Haas and being there for years upon years,” Gragson said, as reported by “It’s definitely an emotional week, challenging week for our organization.”

The franchise secured two Cup championships and 69 wins,

Briscoe said the No. 14 Chevrolet team will maintain focus on qualifying for the playoffs, positioned 16th in the points standings.

“Every other team in this garage, all they talk about is how they’ve got to go fast that weekend,” Briscoe said. “Our team is talking about what jobs are available, how am I going to feed my family and, oh yeah, we’ve got to get the car ready for Gateway this week. It’s a distraction, 100 percent. We can’t control what we can’t control, right? We’ve got to keep doing what we can do and all we can control is trying to bring the best car we can with the circumstances we’re given and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Starting Lineup for NASCAR Cup Series’ Enjoy Illinois 300

Here is a look at the lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series’ Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway:

Starting Position, Driver, Car No., Team

  • 1, Michael McDowell, 34, Front Row Motorsports
  • 2, Austin Cindric, 2, Team Penske
  • 3, Ryan Blaney, 12, Team Penske
  • 4, Christopher Bell, 20, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • 5, Tyler Reddick, 45, 23XI Racing
  • 6, Denny Hamlin, 11, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • 7, Brad Keselowski, 6, RFK Racing
  • 8, Bubba Wallace, 23, 23XI Racing
  • 9, Ty Gibbs, 54, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • 10, Kyle Busch, 8, Richard Childress Racing
  • 11, William Byron, 24, Hendrick Motorsports
  • 12, Joey Logano, 22, Team Penske
  • 13, Kyle Larson, 5, Hendrick Motorsports
  • 14, Alex Bowman, 48, Hendrick Motorsports
  • 15, Corey LaJoie, 7, Spire Motorsports
  • 16, Ross Chastain, 1, Trackhouse Racing
  • 17, Chase Elliott, 9, Hendrick Motorsports
  • 18, Austin Dillon, 3, Richard Childress Racing
  • 19, Martin Truex Jr., 19, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • 20, Carson Hocevar, 77, Spire Motorsports
  • 21, Justin Haley, 51, Rick Ware Racing
  • 22, Erik Jones, 43, Legacy Motor Club
  • 23, Chase Briscoe, 14, Stewart-Haas Racing
  • 24, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 47, JTG Daugherty Racing
  • 25, Derek Kraus, 16, Kaulig Racing
  • 26, Chris Buescher, 17, RFK Racing
  • 27, Noah Gragson, 42, Stewart-Haas Racing
  • 28, Daniel Hemric, 31, Kaulig Racing
  • 29, Josh Berry, 4, Stewart-Haas Racing
  • 30, Harrison Burton, 21, Wood Brothers Racing
  • 31, Daniel Suarez, 99, Trackhouse Racing
  • 32, Ryan Preece, 41, Stewart-Haas Racing
  • 33, John Hunter Nemechek, 42, Legacy Motor Club
  • 34, Cody Ware, 15, Rick Ware Racing
  • 35, Todd Gilliland, 38, Front Row Motorsports
  • 36, Zane Smith, 71, Spire Motorsports

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