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McDowell ‘heartbroken’ after crashing out from Talladega lead

Michael McDowell was “heartbroken” leaving Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway empty-handed after leading the field off Turn 4 on the final lap.

McDowell spun and crashed in the tri-oval off the front bumper of Brad Keselowski coming to the checkered flag. After blocking Keselowski’s run to the outside off Turn 4, the Front Row Motorsports driver went for the second block when the No. 6 dove back to the left toward the yellow line. It was a little too late, and Keselowski got into the back of McDowell, which triggered a multi-car wreck after McDowell spun across the track in front of the field.

Tyler Reddick missed the spinning No. 34 and passed the No. 6 for the race win. Keselowski finished second. McDowell’s damaged car, with its front end torn off, came to rest in the grass yards from the finish line, and he was credited with finishing 31st.

“Just heartbroken, man,” McDowell said. “I pull down a little bit sooner and we win the race. But that’s racing and it’s tough to get to victory lane, and we were close. We’ll be motivated by it. I’m a student of the game; I’m going to go back and watch and study and learn and figure out what I could have done differently and better, and work with my spotter and try to figure it out.

“But I’m super disappointed. I hate that other people that got caught up in my mess. I’m proud of our effort, our speed and our race team. We’ll see what happens.”

McDowell thought he was going to be clear when pulling down in front of Keselowski, and in the moment didn’t think it was a late block. It was not an “all or nothing” moment for him coming to the checkered flag, and he had no intention of starting a wreck. Keselowski “barely” made contact to send McDowell spinning.

“I hate it because we had a good chance of getting a Dark Horse Mustang in victory lane; we definitely had the speed,” McDowell said. “But on the flip side of that, it’s the last lap at Talladega and you’re going for a win, and so I’ll learn from it, go back and watch it, and see what I could have done differently and better. But Brad’s a tough guy to beat here. He knows what to do on the last lap; he’s won [six] times here, and he did everything right.

“He drug off me, drug back and I drug back to him to try to make sure he didn’t have too big of a run, and then he got connected there with [Gragson] and just surged right before I pulled down. You’re dealing with inches the whole time, and I miscalculated. I apologize to Brad and everybody that was behind that got collected in that. It’s unfortunate. We had such a fast Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang. I’m proud of everybody at Front Row. We had so much speed, having both cars up there and controlling the race. We needed a win, and we were going for it.”

McDowell started from the pole in the GEICO 500 and led a race-high 36 laps.

Story originally appeared on Racer