Michael McDowell Turns Heads in ARCA Debut Newest Talent in Eddie Sharp Racing Stable Runs in Top-Five in First-Ever Series Event DENVER, NC (August 28, 2006) -- To run in the top-five in a driver's first-ever ARCA RE/MAX Series event is a...
Michael McDowell Turns Heads in ARCA Debut
Newest Talent in Eddie Sharp Racing Stable Runs in Top-Five in First-Ever Series Event
DENVER, NC (August 28, 2006) -- To run in the top-five in a driver's first-ever ARCA RE/MAX Series event is a tough task. Every first-timer hopes to have that opportunity, but few are able to go right out onto the track and run with the best of the best in the tough ARCA series. For Michael McDowell, however, the chances were not only good to be able to run in the top-five, the young driver was able to succeed in that goal as well on Sunday.
McDowell made his debut as part of Eddie Sharp Racing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Sunday afternoon at the Milwaukee Mile (WI). McDowell and the ESR team set forth a goal for the rookie driver in the Governor's Cup 200 to run competitively and complete all the laps.
The competitive part of the goal was met and exceeded. McDowell raced hard to fourth for much of the early stages of the race. Unfortunately around mid-race, other drivers racing for a top-10 position with McDowell left the rookie no place to go, relegating the #2 Z-Line Designs/Southern New Hampshire University Dodge to a 34th-place finish.
The result may not have been exactly what McDowell and the ESR team were hoping for going into Milwaukee, but their goals were met on several different other levels, giving the driver and the team plenty of motivation as they head into the rest of the ARCA schedule.
"I had high expectations going into this race," said McDowell. "I knew I had a good car, and I knew the team worked real hard for this race. I came into a program ready to win, so I was fully expecting to run in the top-10 today. We got good pit stops and got into the top-five and stayed there. That showed what we could run up front. Even though we didn't get the finish we wanted, I'll go into my next race at Chicago now knowing what things are going to be like."
The Governor's Cup 200 at Milwaukee may have been McDowell's first race weekend in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, but he looked more like a savvy veteran than a rookie in his first days at the track with Eddie Sharp Racing. McDowell was fast right off the trailer, putting together strong laps in practice on Saturday. He qualified the #2 Dodge 14th for Sunday's race, but from the drop of the green flag McDowell showed that he could get the job done in this series.
"We had a really good run at the start. The car was really good and I was just pacing myself at the beginning not knowing how the race was going to go. We raced our way into the top-10 solidly. Then, after a couple of rounds of pit stops, we were up into the top five. The car was good and we could run there with the leaders.
"Then, for some reason, we developed a fuel pickup problem under one of those cautions and I ran out of fuel. I made it back to pit lane and got back going again. We came back out, and I think we were still running in the top-15 when two guys got together ahead of me. Frank Kimmel got into the wall and came off the wall into me. Since I was already there, it was chaos after that. It tore it up bad enough that we couldn't keep going, but all in all we had a solid weekend and I'm looking forward to Chicago to hopefully finish where we're capable of."
Team owner Eddie Sharp has seen plenty of young talent make their way into the ARCA RE/MAX Series, but he left Milwaukee knowing that one of the next great talents in the sport made an impact in his first series start on Sunday.
"It's a pleasure to work with professionals like Michael," said Sharp. "He's a young kid that already has a lot of racing experience, but with more experience he's going to go a long way. I know the quality of the racecars, and I knew that just being smart was going to put you in a spot to finish well. Our goal for Michael today was to run all the laps, but because of somebody else's aggression, he was a victim. You can't beat yourself up too bad when you're running in the top-five and you get taken out by someone else's aggression."
McDowell will be back behind the wheel of the Z-Line Design/Southern New Hampshire University Dodge for Eddie Sharp Racing on September 9th at Chicagoland Speedway.