McDowell, who is sixth in the Lucas Oil points standings, took the lead with seven laps remaining in the Pepsi 75 to claim a $20,000 prize in front of a nearly packed house.
The race saw all kinds of excitement with Lucas Oil points leader Scott Bloomquist losing a wheel, Eric Wells losing a tire and the lead late in the race, 14-year old Tyler Reddick qualifying on the pole and leading for 10 laps and strong challenges from Josh McGuire and eventual second place finisher Brad Neat.
PRP late model points leader R.J. Conley finished fourth.
The biggest race in PRP's history had within it all the excitement that area race fans have come to appreciate over the last two decades since the Coleman family built the facility.
Track announcer Chuck Greenslate said that 2010 already ranks among the track's best years.
"I think we've had two or three of our best crowds ever," Greenslate said. "The Fourth of July race was just absolutely crazy. That was the largest crowd I've ever seen there. We had an awesome Fred Dillow Memorial with 138 cars in the pits and then this weekend was just great. The Saturday night show, the Pepsi 75 itself, you couldn't ask for a better race.
"With the lights and cameras of the Speed Channel on hand I think that was really neat to have such a nice event that is going to be nationally televised," Greenslate added. "We're looking forward to sitting back and watching it again here in a couple weeks."
The race will air Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. on the Speed Channel.
The track, owned by Boone and Joyce Coleman and managed by Tim Coleman, opened in the late fall of 1990, hosting just two races that year before offering a full schedule in 1991. In 1999 the track was enlarged to it's current 3/8 mile size.
The track has overcome it's location on a flood plane, vandalism in the early days, a pair of economic recessions and the spike in gas prizes but it is still running strong.
"It evidently says that the people who own the track, the Coleman family, are doing something right," Greenslate said. "It says that we've got a great fan base, it says we've got great drivers and that we have a wonderful facility.
"The fact that we have weathered storms such as the economy and other things that have happened down through the years is a true testament to the work ethic of the ownership," Greenslate added. "That's the hardest working group of people that I've ever been around from Tim Coleman to Boone and Joyce to all their family to Donna Rayburn, they are just so hard working."
With Lucas Oil an annual visitor and the plethora of other series races PRP has hosted over the years, Portsmouth Raceway Park is one of Portsmouth's better known attractions nationally.
"I think definitely we're on the map and we've been there for some time," Greenslate said. "I think a lot of times people from outside the area have a better awareness of us than sometimes people who live close by. If you are a dirt track fan, you've heard of Portsmouth Raceway Park."
There is no racing at PRP this coming Saturday but the track returns to action Sept. 18 with Fan Appreciation Night with general admission costing just $5.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org