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Michael McDowell Scores First Career NASCAR Cup Series Pole

Michael McDowell pole Atlanta Motor Speedway 2024 Ambetter Health 400 NASCAR Cup Series Front Row Motorsports

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett, NKP, Courtesy of Ford Performance

It may have taken him 467 attempts, but Michael McDowell finally became a pole winner in the NASCAR Cup Series Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The native of Phoenix, AZ turned a lightning-quick 30.999 sec. (178,844 mph) lap around the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway and will lead the field to green in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400.

While McDowell takes great pride in collecting his first career Busch Light Pole Award, McDowell says all of the credit goes to his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team.

“Yes, it is for sure my first career pole in the NASCAR Cup Series. I’m proud of that, but at the same time, it’s more of a testament to the team,” McDowell stated. “I mean, this qualifying session you have to execute everything perfectly, but at the same time, having a fast race car is what it’s all about. I’m really proud of my guys.”

McDowell, who was the final car to take to the track in the final round of qualifying, knocked Joey Logano off the provisional pole position. Both drivers started on the front row of the Daytona 500 a week ago.

“I don’t think it’s too much of a coincidence,” McDowell said of the front row being comprised of the same drivers this week. “I say that just because with both qualifying sessions being a superspeedway, and superspeedway package, we sort of knew coming from Daytona that we were going to have good speed because we showed good speed at Daytona. Not a huge surprise, but really cool.”

Prior to McDowell’s qualifying lap, the track clean-up crew had to be dispatched to pick up a couple of trash bags that were floating around the racing surface. Once the surface was set, McDowell went to work and put down an incredible lap.

Behind the front row of McDowell and Logano will be Kyle Busch and Todd Gilliland in row 2. Gilliland, the driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang, capped off a strong session overall for the two-car team.

Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-10 qualifiers for Sunday’s event at Atlanta.

Daytona 500 champion William Byron was the fastest driver who didn’t advance to Round 2 of Saturday’s qualifying session. As a result, the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will start Sunday’s race from the 11th position.

Rookie of the Year contender Josh Berry, who was involved in a crash in the Daytona 500, will look to get his rookie campaign righted as he’ll roll from the 14th starting spot in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang.

Surprisingly, Erik Jones will start from the 37th and final starting spot in the field. The racer struggled from a loose condition during his qualifying lap in the No. 43 LEGACY MOTOR CLUB Toyota Camry XSE.


NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 Qualifying Results | Starting Lineup

Qualifying Results: NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta

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