AVONDALE, Ariz. – Daniel Suarez tossed Michael McDowell to the ground and both drivers must be forced to resist Friday after they were eliminated while jockeying for position in the first round qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series at ISM Raceway.
Just about everyone was waiting for the last few minutes of the 10-minute qualifying session before leaving the pit road, creating chaos on the milestone track. Suarez and McDowell continued to move towards each other, and they finally destroyed each other’s qualified trials.
When they got out of their cars, Suarez jumped a concrete wall and replaced words with McDowell before he ran him to the ground – McDowell didn’t even remove his helmet.
It took several crew members to finally pull them apart.
On the heels of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney won a lap of 141,287 mph to win the pole for the weekend’s competition at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.
Joey Logano was fresh from hauling in qualified trim at ISM Raceway as he twisted a knee in his 22 Ford who would have landed him fairly on the pole a year ago.
Team Penske owner Roger Penske revealed that he received a kidney transplant after the 2017 IndyCar season final.
“Just like a respect [thing],” Suarez said. “The track position is very big in this competition today and you have to qualify well to have a good stall on the pit. You have to try to get out of the way if someone comes with a hot lap. He just did not.”
Of course saw McDowell things in different ways.
“Just a misunderstanding on the track,” says McDowell, an Arizona resident who considers Phoenix’s home track. “We all waited until the end and we only had a lot of traffic. He was upset that we kept him in his good lap, and then he tried to crash us, and I didn’t appreciate it.”
Throwing in the garage area did not quite reach the level of Jeff Gordon’s memorable fight with Clint Bowyer in Phoenix in 2012. But it was still another silent qualification session.
Later, McDowell joked that he and Suarez were on a hockey game Thursday night and didn’t read too much in the fight. McDowell starts Sunday 25th and Suarez 28th.
Tensions were already high when teams arrived in Phoenix, none of them are absolutely sure of what to expect with NASCAR’s new control package that allows more horsepower and further downforce. But everyone expects them to be difficult, and that made qualification more important than usual.
“Shorter workouts, shorter qualifications,” McDowell said. “Intensity ramps up.”