McDowell, Tagliani’s Perspectives Differ on Mid-Race Road America Contactby Kyle Pokrefky August 27, 2016 0 comments
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — The story of Saturday’s Road America 180 at Road America was turned on its head in the middle stages of the race after contact in Turn 6 between Michael McDowell and Alex Tagliani sent Tagliani barreling down the running order.
McDowell, winner of Saturday’s event, had earned himself a sizable run on the cars of both Tagliani and Justin Marks and was gunning for the lead coming off of Turn 5.
Clearing Marks, McDowell was making a run to the left of Tagliani’s No. 22 Discount Tire Ford when the then leader turned down and into the closing No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet of McDowell. The contact sent Tagliani wide off of the race course and subsequently to the pit lane for service.
Rejoining the race outside of the top-20, Tagliani’s efforts to claw his way forward ultimately culminated with a seventh-place finish.
Speaking after climbing out of his banged up No. 22 car, Tagliani was quick to accuse McDowell of making intentional contact with him.
“I think the No. 2 realized that we were the car to beat and an opportunity presented itself to take us out and he did it, to take away some competition from him,” Tagliani said. “In those instances, I’m a firm believer that you have to resist the temptation of doing it but it seems that in this world, in this series, in this sport – everything goes. I think I should try to play it smarter and drive him that way.
“At that time, instead of trying to fight clean with the No. 2 and give him a hard time to try to be creative to try to go around me, I should have let him go by and do to him what he did to me and take away the competition. It crossed my mind, but other than the No. 2, there was no one out there that could touch us.
“After what I saw, I should have, but should have could have – that’s not the way you win races.”
Speaking during his post-race press conference, McDowell provided his perspective of the mid-race collision between the two contenders.
“The No. 22, we had a run in with him earlier in the race, basically I kept putting my nose in and he kept slamming the door,” McDowell stated. “He ran wide in Turn 5 and I got underneath the No. 42 and No. 22 and I got alongside of him and he decided to turn in.
“Once we made contact, I just came off the break and pushed him out of the way – the reason why I did that was because, had I not, I would have been stuck there too and I would have gotten ran over. Once he committed to turn in and I was on the inside, he already made the contact.”
McDowell continued by asserting that the contact was absolutely unintentional.
“No, it wasn’t intentional,” he said. “I wasn’t intentionally doing it, but at the same time I was clearly in there and wasn’t sure what he was doing when he came across the nose – but I haven’t seen the replay. A lot of times I watch the replay and I go “Oh yeah, I was right” and a lot of times I watch it and I go “Oh, gosh.”
“I hope it’s not an ‘oh, gosh’ moment, but by no means did I come off of Turn 5 thinking “here’s my shot, I’m going to wipe him out” – that wasn’t the case at all.”
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images