Michael McDowell approached Ryan Blaney after NASCAR New Hampshire incident

It was a 'do or die' decision with a playoff spot on the line

Michael McDowell needs nothing short of a win over the next two months.

If he does, he advances into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons. If he can’t win, he is too far back in the championship standings to advance on consistency.

That is why, point blank, he drove very deep into the corner on a late restart on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and risked what ultimately took place — wiping both himself and Ryan Blaney out while racing for second.

It was also the argument he made to Blaney, while apologizing first and foremost, when he walked over to the defending champion to talk about it.

“I know he’s got to win and all that and that’s his excuse but you have to like calculate, be a little more calculated than that and just stinks that we’re at the expense of it,” Blaney said on the USA Network post-race show. “But man, I thought we had a decent shot to contend. I was happy because we came in, put tires on, made a big adjustment and I was looking forward to kind of restarting behind Bell and seeing if we could have anything for him and just never really got a chance.”

Speaking to FOX Sports, McDowell said just that.

“I was in a do-or-die situation and I had to go for it,” McDowell said. “I know it was a low-percentage move, but I had to try. All the guys that went to the bottom, and one and two on those restarts got freight-trained, so I knew I needed to enter in the middle. I just got the left sides on the wet paint and it just kind of took off.

“I hate it for Blaney. I know it ruined his day, it ruined my day too and I apologized to those guys for that. But I’m at a point in the season where I have to go for it too. You don’t know until you get there, and I was just in there a little too deep.”

By virtue of his win at Iowa last weekend, Blaney guaranteed himself a return trip to the Cup Series playoffs and McDowell now has just nine races left to do the same with the race he won late last year, the IMS Road Course, no longer being on the schedule.

McDowell is 22nd in the standings so a top-5 just doesn’t mean that much. Blaney is eighth in the standings and every position in the top-10 pays additional playoff points towards the start of each championship round so its not like not finishing in the top-5 was inconsequential to the 12 team too.

Adding a layer of awkwardness to it is that McDowell’s Front Row Motorsports team is entered into a technical alliance with Team Penske through Ford Performance.

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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