NASCAR playoff drivers who won’t be back: No. 2 – Michael McDowell
Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell is in a position similar to that of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in that even with a career year and a resurgence from his team, he still needed to rely on a victory to get him into the postseason, having finished the season 18th in total points scored.
McDowell qualified for the playoffs thanks to his victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course late in the regular season, but just like he was in 2021 after winning the Daytona 500 to lock in, he was eliminated in the round of 16.
The driver of the No. 34 Ford probably has a better chance to return to the postseason than Stenhouse does simply because of the fact that he has proven himself to be one of the best road course racers in the series, and road course races without stage cautions are far less of a “wild card” than they were with them — and, of course, far less of a “wild card” than superspeedway races.
His Indianapolis win was no fluke, but he will likely need to win again to get back to the playoffs, since his results in the other tracks, even if improved over past seasons, won’t be enough.