Michael McDowell (racing driver)


Michael McDowell (racing driver)
Michael Christoper McDowell
Born December 21, 1984 (1984-12-21) (age 26)
Glendale, Arizona
Awards 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
Car no., team #66 - HP Racing
2010 position 45th
Best finish 40th - 2008
First race 2008 Goody's Cool Orange 500 (Martinsville)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
Car no., team #18 - Joe Gibbs Racing
2010 position 21st
Best finish 13th - 2009
First race 2007 O'Reilly Challenge (Texas)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 7 1
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
Best finish 111th - 2009
First race 2007 Kroger 200 (Martinsville)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
Statistics current as of January 22, 2011.

Michael Christopher McDowell (born December 21, 1984 in Glendale, Arizona)[1] is an American race car driver. He currently drives the #66 Toyota Camry for HP Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the #18 Pizza Ranch Toyota Camry part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He married Jami (his junior high school sweetheart) in 2005 and they have one son.[citation needed]

Contents

Beginnings

Michael started out his career at the age of three racing BMX bicycles. He would always win his division because there were not any other three or four year olds to compete against. At the start of each race, someone would have to hold him in the starting gate because his feet did not reach the ground. Then, when Michael was eight years old, he moved to karting with help from his mother Tracy, his father Bill, and his older brother Billy, who were all avid race fans. After ten years in karts, he would win not only the World Karting Association championship, but he would also take back to back undefeated International Karting Federation championships, along with 18 consecutive feature wins.

Open Wheel

From karts Michael moved into Formula Renault with World Speed Motorsports in 2002 and won the Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas, and Firebird International Raceway events in his rookies season. Moving up the ladder, Michael would move to the Star Mazda Series in 2003. He took victories at Sebring and Road America en route to a runner-up finish in the points. Michael won seven races in 2004 en route to winning the series championship. McDowell would be picked up by Champ Car team Rocketsports for Surfer's Paradise and Mexico City, but decided to move on in 2005 to the Grand-Am Cup Series.

Move to sports/stock cars

Grand-Am

During his run for the Star Mazda championship, Michael would meet businessman Rob Finlay at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, where McDowell was an instructor. McDowell and Finlay soon established a partnership, and McDowell would drive his first sports car, a Porsche 996 in the Grand-Am Cup Series for Finlay Motorsports. In 2005, Michael would stay at Finlay, but would move up to the Rolex Sports Car Series, joining with veteran Memo Gidley in a BMW powered Riley sponsored by the Make A Wish Foundation. Together, they would finish sixth in the overall points and take the team's first victory at Mexico City. Michael made history by not only becoming the youngest driver to stand on podium for a Grand-Am race at Barber Motorsports Park,[citation needed] but he also became the first driver since the great Mario Andretti to compete in both an open wheel race and a sports car race in the same weekend.[citation needed] Michael would also drive the team's #60 BMW M3 in the Grand-Am Cup series to a podium finish at Daytona. McDowell would stick with Finlay for 2006, and was again partnered with Gidley. The duo would improve to fourth in points despite being winless. Michael would also drive a #15 Ford Mustang with owner Finlay, driving the car to a win at Barber. He would cap off his Grand-Am years with a second place finish at Miller Motorsports Park.

ARCA

Unfortunately, in early 2006, Michael's mother Tracy died in January after battling cancer for a year. She was only 45. Even with having to deal with this tragedy at such an early age, Michael continued to work towards his dream. Michael's accolades and talent impressed many teams, and ARCA RE/MAX Series owner Eddie Sharp would put him behind the wheel of his #2 Dodge for five races of the 2006 season, starting with the Governor's Cup 200 at the Milwaukee Mile. Although he scored a 34th place finish, McDowell stayed near the front of the pack. McDowell scoring a sixth place finish at Salem, fifth at Talladega, and fourth at Iowa. Considering his quick adaptation to all three tracks which he had never seen before, drivers quickly gave Michael the nickname of "The Natural".[citation needed] Michael would return to ESR to run the full schedule for Rookie of the Year honors. During the first third of the season, Michael was seen as a bridesmaid driver who had the potential to win but did not have enough luck. McDowell was involved in controversy at Toledo when his ESR teammate, Ken Butler III spun him late in the race. Butler would take his first win while Michael would rally for a top ten finish. Michael would drop his bridesmaid status with his first stock car win at Kentucky Speedway. He followed that up with wins at Pocono, Chicago, and the season finale at Toledo. Although Michael was in contention for the ARCA Re/Max Seroes championship all season long, he was unable to pose a serious threat to Frank Kimmel for Kimmel's ninth championship. Michael would score a second place finish in the points along with Rookie of the Year honors, as well as scoring nine pole positions during the season. As McDowell moved to NASCAR, his ESR ride was taken over by former Formula One driver Scott Speed.

NASCAR

Michael would make his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series. Driving the #17 for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, Michael would qualify 29th and finish 30th after a late wreck. Michael moved to the Busch Series as a developmental driver for Sprint Cup Series team Michael Waltrip Racing. Driving the #00 Toyota, Michael drove at Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead, finishing 20th, 14th, and 32nd. McDowell was chosen to drive the #00 Cup Series car in 2008 after Dale Jarrett's retirement; David Reutimann replaced Jarrett in the #44 UPS car. Michael started 34th and finished 26th in his Sprint Cup debut, the Goody's Cool Orange 500, after a flat tire near the end of the race. After the race, he was criticized by veteran driver Jeff Burton for him blocking Burton's way to leader Denny Hamlin near the end of the race (McDowell was racing for the Lucky Dog free pass, which Burton did not realize at the time of is comments). In early August 2008, McDowell was pulled from the #00 Toyota Camry Sprint Cup car in favor of veteran NASCAR driver Mike Skinner for three races. Skinner helped evaluate the team's progress, while trying to get the #00 into the top 35 in owner points. Skinner wasn't able to do any better than McDowell, actually he did worse, and he contended that it was the equipment and not the driver, so McDowell returned to the ride at Richmond on September 6, 2008. McDowell was again pulled from the #00 Toyota Camry when he failed to qualify for the Camping World RV 400 at Kansas on September 28. McDowell's contract was not renewed by MWR for 2009, when Michael Waltrip decided not to retire and the team did not have sponsorship for another car.

McDowell's 2009 #47 Nationwide car

In 2009, McDowell drove a part-time schedule for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. His happiest moment came on February 25, 2009 when his first child, Trace Christopher McDowell was born. Trace was named after Michael's late mother, Tracy. The baby boy was 7 pounds, 7 ounces and born at 7:00am on the dot. Ironically, the new father's next race was three days later in Las Vegas, the place where you hope for 7 7 7. After this happy event, McDowell attempted the April 2009 race at Talladega for Prism Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, as regular driver Dave Blaney had a family obligation. After JTG Daugherty Racing ran out of sponsorship support after the second race at Daytona International Speedway, it was announced that he would drive the next two races for MacDonald Motorsports. He also competed a few races with Tommy Baldwin Racing in the #36 Toyota Camry. Even with switching between so many new cars and teams, Michael remained in the top 10 for most of the season. McDowell also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2009 for ThorSport Motorsports driving the #98 Chevy Silverado.

In 2010, McDowell started the season for Prism Motorsports. He drove the #55 car, then moved to the #46 team of Whitney Motorsports. In 2011 he will drive the #66 Toyota for HP Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. In the Nationwide Series he will race at least two races for Joe Gibbs Racing. He will drive the #18 Pizza Ranch Toyota in both races at Iowa Speedway. JGR also added the Bucyrus 200 at Road America to McDowell's schedule, leaving open the possibility of more races added.

Crash at Texas Motor Speedway

Panorama of McDowell's crash at Texas Motor Speedway
McDowell's destroyed racecar after the crash being taken away

While performing a qualifying attempt for the 2008 Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2008 McDowell had a very frightening accident that was strikingly similar to that of another racer with a road-racing background; Gordon Smiley (who died in a crash during time trials in 1982). McDowell's right front sway bar broke entering Turn 1, which caused the car to hit the SAFER barrier almost head on at approximately 165 miles per hour (266 km/h), according to data obtained and reported by SPEED channel (165 mph to zero mph in one foot, as reported by SPEED's Bob Dillner, before reaccellerating the other direction). The car spun around once while tipping onto its roof, and then barrel-rolled 8 times with fire coming out of the engine compartment, shedding debris everywhere, until coming to a stop back onto its tires.[2] A huge dark mark was seen on the SAFER barrier, which showed how hard the car hit the barrier, which had to be repaired (the barrier moved inward when the car hit it), and as a result, qualifying for the race was delayed by an hour. The safety features of the barrier, the HANS device and the Car of Tomorrow racecar protected him.[2] Because of this, he fortunately walked away from the completely devastated car without injury, and waved to the stunned crowd.[2] After this event, all criticisms of the Car of Tomorrow's safety standards ended, as this crash proved once and for all that the safety features of the car are vastly improved from the old car.[2] Since his old car was destroyed, he had to switch to a backup, and ended up starting at the back of the pack in the race.

Motorsports career results

American Open-Wheel

(key)

Champ Car

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Rank Points
2005 Rocketsports Racing LBH MTY MIL POR CLE TOR EDM SJO DEN MTL LVS SRF
12
MXC
11
21st 19

Complete Sprint Cup Series results

Note:This list does not include exhibition races. (key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Rank Points
2008 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 Toyota DAY CAL LSV ATL BRI MAR
26
TEX
33
PHO
34
TAL
26
RIC
40
DAR
28
LOW
32
DOV
30
POC
27
MIC
37
INF
21
NHA
42
DY2
25
CHI
43
IND
34
PO2
24
GLN
25
MI2 BR2 CA2 RI2
20
NH2
27
DV2
29
KAN
DNQ
TL2 LO2 MA2 AT2 TX2 PH2 HOM 40th 1466
2009 Prism Motorsports 66 Toyota DAY CAL LSV ATL BRI MAR TEX PHO TAL
DNQ
RIC DAR LOW DOV POC MIC INF NHA DY2 CHI IND PO2 GLN MI2 BR2 AT2 45th 879
Tommy Baldwin Racing 36 RI2
41
NH2
41
DV2
38
KAN
DNQ
CA2
40
LO2
DNQ
MA2
41
TL2 TX2
41
PH2
41
HOM
43
2010 Prism Motorsports 55 Toyota DAY
33
CAL
21
LSV
26
ATL
26
BRI MAR
43
RIC
DNQ
DAR
40
DOV
42
CHA
42
POC
39
MIC INF NHA
41
DY2
DNQ
CHI
DNQ
IND
42
PO2
43
GLN
42
MI2
42
BR2
43
45th 879
66 PHO
43
TEX
41
TAL
Whitney Motorsports 46 Chevrolet AT2
39
KAN
40
CA2
39
CH2
39
MA2
DNQ
TL2
35
TX2
DNQ
PH2
DNQ
HOM
DNQ
Dodge RI2
DNQ
NH2
43
DV2
39
2011 HP Racing 66 Toyota DAY
DNQ
PHO
41
LSV
41
BRI
43
CAL
43
MAR
32
TEX
40
TAL
DNQ
RIC
40
DAR
DOV
CHA
KAN
POC
MIC
INF
DY2
KEN
NHA
IND
PO2
GLN
MI2
BR2
ATL
RI2
CHI
NH2
DV2
KA2
CH2
TL2
MA2
TX2
PH2
HOM
39th* 29*
* Season in progress.

Images

References

  1. ^ Michael McDowell Career Statistics
  2. ^ a b c d New car proved it works, but NASCAR can't rest; April 4, 2008; Jeff Hammond; Fox Sports; Retrieved April 4, 2008

External links


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