- Michael McDowell (NASCAR)
Infobox NASCAR driver
Name = Michael Christopher McDowell
Birthdate = birth date and age|1984|12|21
Awards = 2007
ARCA RE/MAX SeriesRookie of the Year
Cup_Car_Team = #00 -
Michael Waltrip Racing
First_Cup_Race = 2008
Goody's Cool Orange 500(Martinsville)
Busch_Wins = 0 | Busch_Top_Tens = 1 | Busch_Poles = 0
Busch_Car_Team = #00 -
Michael Waltrip Racing
First_Busch_Race = 2007
First_Truck_Race = 2007
Truck_Wins = 0
Truck_Top_Tens = 0
Truck_Poles = 0
Michael Christopher McDowell (born
December 21, 1984in Phoenix, Arizona) is an American racing driver who drives the #00 Aaron's Toyota Camryfor Michael Waltrip Racingin the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Michael, like many racers, started out his career in
kartingwith help from his mother Tracy, who was an avid race fan. After 10 years in karts, he would win not only the World Karting Associationchampionship, but he would also take back to back undefeated International Karting Federationchampionships, along with 18 consecutive feature wins.
Moving up the ladder, Michael would move to the
Star Mazda Seriesin 2003. He took victories at Sebring and Road Americaen route to a runner-up finish in the points. Michael won seven races in 2004 enroute to winning the series championship. McDowell would be picked up by Champ Carteam Rocketsportsfor Surfer's Paradise and Mexico City, but was not retained for 2006.
Move to sports/stock cars
During his run for the Star Mazda championship, Michael would meet businessman
Rob Finlayat 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 996in the Grand-Am CupSeries for Finlay Motorsports. In 2005, Michael would stay at Finlay, but would move up to the Rolex Sports Car Series, joining with veteran Memo Gidleyin a BMWpowered Rileysponsored 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,Fact|date=April 2008 but he also became the first driver since the great Mario Andrettito compete in both an open wheel race and a sports car race in the same weekend.Fact|date=April 2008 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 Mustangwith 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.
Michael's accolades and talent impressed many teams, and
ARCA RE/MAX Seriesowner Eddie Sharpwould 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".Fact|date=April 2008 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 IIIspun 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 Kimmelfor 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 1driver Scott Speed.
National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing
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 Seriesas a developmental driver for Sprint Cup Seriesteam 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 Reutimannreplaced 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 Burtonfor him blocking Burton's way to leader Denny Hamlin near the end of the race (McDowell was racing for the Lucky Dog free pass). In early August 2008, McDowell was pulled from the #00 Toyota Camry Sprint Cup car in favor of veteran NASCAR driver Mike Skinnerfor 3 races. Skinner helped evaluate the team's progress, while trying to get the #00 into the top 35 in owner points. McDowell returns to the ride at Richmond on September 6, 2008.
While qualifying at
Texas Motor Speedwayon April 4 2008, McDowell hit the SAFER barrieralmost head on at approximately convert|165|mph|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 flipped 8 times with fire coming out of the engine compartment. [http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/story/7989468/New-car-proved-it-works,-but-NASCAR-can't-rest New car proved it works, but NASCAR can't rest] ; April 4 2008; Jeff Hammond; FOX Sports; Retrieved April 4 2008] The safety features of the barrier, the HANS deviceand the Car of Tomorrowracecar protected him. He walked away from the completely destroyed car without injury, and waved to the stunned crowd.
NASCAR Sprint Cup results
() (Races in bold indicate pole position)"*"Season in progress.
*- 19 of 36 races (Data as of June 23, 2008) [ [http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/sprint/drivers/1031/career;_ylt=Ag.LkKdmtTwVK1vqleaPojchHrcF NASCAR Career Stats] ]
* [http://www.mmcdowell.com Official Website]
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