Michael McDowell currently drives in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 98 K-Love/Curb Records Ford, along with some Nationwide Series driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
McDowell will run in both the Drive 4 COPD 300 for the Nationwide Series on Saturday and hopes to race his way into the Daytona 500 this Thursday in the Budweiser Duels.
He will start 17th in the second duel Thursday afternoon after setting the 34th fastest lap in the qualifying session on Sunday with a speed of 193.544 mph.
I was fortunate enough to interview McDowell and ask him about a various of topics including goals to this season, racing at Daytona and stuff he likes to do on race weekends. He’s a class act and one of the nicest drivers you would ever meet.
Q: What are some of your goals/expectations this season?
McDowell: “My goals really are to on the Nationwide side to try and get a couple victories. I’ll have an opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing again in the No. 18 car. And on the Cup side the goal is to continue to do more races and build a program where we can eventually get to a point of racing full-time.”
Q: What are your thoughts on the new Gen-6 Sprint Cup car?
McDowell: “I love it. I think it’s a lot of fun to drive. I think it’s going to be very challenging on these race tracks for how fast it is. But, for the branding standpoint it’s awesome. It doesn’t get much better. I think they’ve done a great job, but we won’t know until we get to a 1.5-mile track to see how it drives and how it races. By yourself it’s great but we haven’t really got into a full pack yet.”
Q: With the new rule package this year for qualifying, does that change the way you’re going to race in the Duels on Thursday?
McDowell: Yeah it does because we just don’t know what to do. I’m thankful we’re in the second race so we can have the opportunity to see how the first race goes to see who’s in and who’s out and where we stand in comparison to that then go from there. The hardest part of this Gen 6 car is none of us have a chance to see this out. We only have one superspeedway car so come Thursday and we’re locked in to however that first race goes that will change what we have to do in the second race because obviously we’d like to have it on Sunday when it counts.”
Q: Are there any added nerves waiting on the first race and do you feel it’s an advantage to race in the second duel?
McDowell: “It’s a huge advantage because you know for sure what you have to do. In years past when I’ve been in the first race and everytime I’ve done it you just got to go out there and do it. The second race for sure give you the advantage so you know what needs to happen.”
Q. Can you explain the relationship with K-Love and how that sponsor came about?
McDowell: “It’s a great relationship. It came about through different minestry opportunities within racing through MRO. I just because friends with David Pearson and friends through K-Love which led to do more ministry opporutnities around the race track on any given weekends.”
Q: Being on the road for 36 weeks a year has to be rough, what are some of your favorite things to do on a race weekend?
McDowell: “For us when we have the family on the road we like to break up the time and do things like this. (He was lucky enough to go to Sea World and was actually in transit during this interview). Probably one of my favorite things to do is when we do an every year road trip where we stay on the road for three weeks. We go on the road from Pocono to Watkins Glen to Road America so it’s a lot of fun.”
Q: I saw you were on the entry-list for the Nationwide race in Daytona this weekend. Do you feel the race will be more competitive with so many big named Cup stars in the field and with the race being only 300 miles compared to the 500 mile race Sunday?
McDowell: “Yeah, I think the Nationwide races are sprint races. I think that with this style of drafting you have to be cautious but at the same time have to be in position so you don’t have to make it all up at the end. So yeah you have to go for it. ”
Follow Eric on Twitter @ericsportsguru. Also follow Michael McDowell on Twitter @Mc_Driver
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