Denny Hamlin challenges Michael McDowell to outshine Chase Elliott and secure Cup playoffs

Denny Hamlin doesn’t see Michael McDowell as a last-16 favorite since Chase Elliott is in the fight.

Denny Hamlin challenges Michael McDowell to outshine Chase Elliott and secure Cup playoffs

Michael McDowell (Credits: RACER), Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott (Credits: Sportscasting)

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin has challenged Front Raw Motorsports driver Michael McDowell to secure a playoff spot over Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace with just four more races left in the 2023 Cup season. McDowell, Elliott, Wallace, and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez are the drivers in the current playoff bubble.

While talking about the playoff picture after Chris Buescher took a dominant win last Sunday at Richmond and took the 12th playoff spot to himself, this left four more spots in the last 16 with the same number of races remaining. Former Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski have a comfortable lead and will not miss out on the playoff if there are no four new winners.

Two of the upcoming four races are road courses, and the last is the Coke 400 in Daytona. While discussing the possible entrants, Hamlin pointed out that his driver Bubba Wallace, who now has some point cushion, will make it alongside Elliott of HMS. The 2021 Cup champion, being a third all-time winner in Cup Road course races, and his skill was the reason behind the argument.

McDowell, who is overachieving this season compared to his other four bubble drivers, came across Hamlin’s this claim on Twitter. He wasted no time in reminding the JGR driver that he is a capable driver on Road Course like Chase Elliott and got the same shot. Hamlin replied to the Tweet by asking him to prove him wrong.

I’ll take that bet, @dennyhamlin. Pull up total points scored on road courses with the NextGen car. I think we got a good shot at it,” McDowell replied to a clip from ‘Action Detrimental’ podcast. “Prove me wrong!! LFG,” Hamlin replied. The veteran Ford driver replied, accepting the challenge, ‘Planning on it!’.

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Stat favors Michael McDowell against Chase Elliott in the Next-Gen era

Bubba Wallace (Credits @23XIRacingTwitter) and Michael McDowell (Credits Pinterest)
Bubba Wallace (Credits: @23XIRacing/Twitter) and Michael McDowell (Credits: Pinterest)

Chase Elliott, without any doubt, is one of the skilled drivers in road courses, and being with HMS, he often gets the best packages to prove it is on track. McDowell never had the best cars of the day on any road course races in the Next-Gen era, but he has outperformed expectations every time in his Front Raw Fords and raised the bar.

When the list of points scored in the road courses is considered, McDowell leads the Cup garage with 285 with Chris Buescher, who has 279 points on P2.  Joey Logano is at P3 with 278 points. Chase Elliott is 6th on the list with 262 points. So McDowell can, in theory, make it with facts.

But while considering the data, one fact needs to be factored in, Elliott missed this season’s COTA Cup race due to an injury, so he would have secured more points if he had raced that day, Elliott has also won road curse races in the Next-Gen era while McDowell has no wins. This does give a new dimension to the upcoming Glen and Indy races.

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