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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 1

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Gatorade Duel

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 1

Michael McDowell
February 23, 2012


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:  Let's roll into our post race for the first Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.  Racing his way into the Daytona 500, the 54th running of the Daytona 500 this Sunday, is Michael McDowell.  He drives the No.98 KLOVE/Curb Records Ford.
Michael, congratulations.  Your thoughts about getting into Sunday's Daytona 500?
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  Yeah, it's amazing.  I've been here once before and made the race.  Had to qualify in.  I've been on the outside looking in, too.  Just know this is extremely special, not just for me and my family, but for my whole team, Phil Parsons Racing, small team.  Six guys back at the shop that worked hard in the off‑season to give us a fast car.
It's cool to be able to carry the CURB Records Car, to have KLOVE Radio, Christian Radio Network on the car.  To have CURB Records, as well, it's a good start for us.  This is the start of big things for us.
KERRY THARP:  Congratulations.
Questions now for Michael McDowell.

Q.  Seems like a couple days ago we were talking about your resiliency.  Make another comment on your ability to do that.
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  I don't feel like it's my ability.  I feel extremely blessed.  I want to thank God first and foremost.  It's hard to be one of 43 in this sport.  It's been a tough road for me for sure.  Opportunities like this give me an opportunity to show that I belong here hopefully, and hopefully we'll have a great 500.

Q.  For a lot of the guys in the top 35, this is a way to get your car ready to see what you got for the Daytona 500.  For you guys, it's really tense.  Talk a little bit about how tense and anxious it is when you're in that position.
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  Yeah, extremely anxious.  One of the big concerns we had, we were running good in that lead pack, but we didn't think we could make it on fuel.  That was a big concern, trying to stay in the lead pack, save fuel, not get hot.  It was a pretty tough thing to do.  That was the big thing there about 10 to go, just save fuel.
When that caution came out, that gave us the opportunity to get some gas.
It's anxious the whole time.  I knew starting 21st I had to get to the front early on and get in that lead pack.  I wasn't sure how much excitement there was going to be.
Unfortunately we were involved in the first wreck that took out a few cars.  Everybody got bump‑drafting, it got pretty busy.  You just never know, you have to go for it the whole 60 laps, yeah.

Q.  You finished third in the Rolex 24.  You on a roll this month?
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  I sure hope so.  The one thing I've learned over time is you have to manage the highs and lows in this sport.  There's a lot of both.  For me I'm going to enjoy this high and enjoy the time we get to be in the Daytona 500, just try to keep everything moving forward.
It's a humbling sport.  You come into here, just to be able to compete every week is difficult.  Just happy to have the opportunity.

Q.  Can you talk about Trevor a little bit.  Do you think you make the 500 without him?  How much did you two drafting help you?  You were a mini tandem?  Did that help at all?
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  It's absolutely the reason I'm in the 500.  There's no doubt about it.  Trevor's obviously a close friend of mine.  For him to take the unselfish route and help me out, it means a lot to me.  There's been a lot of ups and downs for him in his career, as well.
It's just cool we've been able to kind of go through those together.  For him to push me into the 500 is definitely pretty special.
So the answer to your question, I probably wouldn't have made it, no (smiling).

Q.  You mentioned that first wreck.  How close were you to getting swept up in it?
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  I was right in it.  I'll have to watch the replay.  I feel I was the cause of it really.  Trevor was on my bumper there pushing me.  I got to David's bumper, as soon as I did, it turned hard left.
You just never know with this new style of the tandem and the spoiler, Trevor yesterday pushed me around for three solid laps.  The car never moved, never wiggled.  When I got to David's bumper, I feel it was going to be the same for him.  Obviously it wasn't.  I know it's very unfortunate for him.  I know they were locked in, didn't plan on racing a whole lot, just wanted to feel out their car.
It's tough that when you've got somebody pushing you and he's getting pushed, and then somebody gets on the brakes, I roll out the gas, get on the brakes as well.  By then he was already turned sideways.  I hate it for them, for sure.
Having faith and knowing that God is in control, you saw that I go left, I'm in the wreck, I'm going home.  Go right, you're in the wreck, going home.  You just don't take it for granted.

Q.  Michael, you've been with Parsons for a couple years now.  You haven't had a whole lot of funding till this year.  You're looking at a substantial payday on Sunday.  Does that change anything early or later in the season knowing you have this coming?
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  Well, when you put together your plan and you look at the sponsorship you have, this race is a big part of whether or not you can run races because the prize money is so substantial.
So our plan was to run the first five races and try to get locked in the top 35.  This gives us the ability to do that.  Having KLOVE come onboard throughout the year, we're just slowly starting to build this program.  For us, substantial funding is five‑races‑to‑go race, it's not 36‑races‑to‑go race.
For us, this definitely helps build this momentum and continue to build partnerships, try to make the formula work.
ROBBY GORDON:  Did you thank me for the parts department at midnight every night?
MICHAEL McDOWELL:  You guys probably don't know much, but a lot of these small teams work together.  We don't have the resources.  We have six guys at the shop, if we need something, we can go over to Robby's and borrow it.  And JTG pitted my car today.  It's cool to see.  This community has changed over the last few years in the sense that there's not an abundance of people, an abundance of funds, an abundance of parts.  It's fun to see everybody working together.



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