FINLAY AND MCDOWELL ATOP GRAND-AM CUP SERIES WITH SECOND PODIUM CHARLOTTE, NC -- March 14, 2005 -- A quintessentially calm Caribbean day on the island of the Dominican Republic was gladly disturbed by more than 20,000 boisterous spectators...
FINLAY AND MCDOWELL ATOP GRAND-AM CUP SERIES WITH SECOND PODIUM
CHARLOTTE, NC -- March 14, 2005 -- A quintessentially calm Caribbean day on the island of the Dominican Republic was gladly disturbed by more than 20,000 boisterous spectators who witnessed an intense and thrilling race at Santa Domingo's Las Americas Autodromo. Immense local support and a trio of sun-soaked days and 80-degree temperatures welcomed the Grand American Cup Series' inaugural visit to the city.
Finlay Motorsports qualified 12th for the Miller 200 on Saturday on the quick and curvy mile and a half track. Given the type of track and starting position, Rob Finlay's game plan was to play a clean-cut hand and carefully weave his way through the traffic to give McDowell a shot at the lead. Finlay's execution was flawless as he coolly picked off competitors on his way to fourth place before turning the M3 over to Michael McDowell.
Immediately the number 60 fell victim to a stop-and-go penalty assessed to McDowell for shooting a lug nut skywards following the driver change. The team also wound up on the short end of a caution as yellow came out just after McDowell got behind the wheel, losing valuable ground to competition that Finlay had devoured through the first half of the race.
These potentially major setbacks proved to be nothing more than minor irritations for McDowell and did little to prevent him from creating havoc for the rest of the field. He shook off the miscues and fought back to make up ground, eventually landing him in a dual with the Multimatic Mustang for second place. The number 55 Multimatic narrowly escaped McDowell on the final lap of the opening race in Daytona. This time, the Mustang could not withstand his charge, and within moments McDowell was just one back of the number 96 Turner Motorsports M3.
Battling against the clock, McDowell was locked in on the leader, Bill Auberlen, for the remainder of the race. In only 45 minutes, McDowell sawed 15 seconds off the lead, finishing the race just six seconds back for the team's second podium finish in two races.
"This is a stage where BMWs show their dominance -- these cars love tight and twisty tracks and certainly don't mind the heat," said McDowell, who's Finlay Motorsports team moved into a tie with Multimatic atop the Cup standings. "This was the best podium experience of my career simply because of the enthusiastic fans; they were so knowledgeable about racing and seemed to have as much fun as the drivers."
"Michael continues to demonstrate that he is one of the best pure driving talents in the series by his ability to overcome obstacles and gun for first -- he leaves everything on the track," said Finlay, clearly pleased with McDowell's performance.
"It was really amazing to see how many people came out to watch the race this weekend," Finlay added. "We put on a great show and I think that next time the series visits Santa Domingo seats will be hard to come by."
The Cup series travels next to Fontana to the California Speedway, a track the duo is familiar with having raced there in 2004. Finlay and McDowell are eager to notch their first Grand Am victory in California and look to grab sole possession of first place in the standings.