Indianapolis: Michael McDowell preview

McDowell's Tour of The Brickyard Left Lasting Impression INDIANAPOLIS (July 23, 2008) -- Michael McDowell vividly remembers a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he was 12 years old and now he will turn his first laps at The Brickyard...

McDowell's Tour of The Brickyard Left Lasting Impression

INDIANAPOLIS (July 23, 2008) -- Michael McDowell vividly remembers a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he was 12 years old and now he will turn his first laps at The Brickyard 11 years later in his #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota this weekend.

"I took a tour there when as a kid and I remember how big the facility was," McDowell said. "We had a weekend off from racing go-karts and went there. I also remember walking through the museum and seeing the cars they kept from past winners and old Sprint cars. It was really cool to walk around Gasoline Alley. There's something special about going to Indy and a lot of people would agree with that. This will be my first time back and I can't wait to make my first lap there."

This is not only the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender's first time racing at the prestigious track, but it is also his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend with new crew chief Peter Sospenzo atop the pit box.

"Last week, I spent time with Peter to get to know him," McDowell said. "He has a lot of experience, has won races and knows what he is doing. He will be able to get right into the mix. He's worked with different teams, veteran drivers and new drivers."

Sospenzo remembers his last time at the 2.5-mile oval with a rookie driver.

"When I was at Hendrick Motorsports, we had the highest qualifying rookie (sixth) with Brian Vickers in 2004 and that was neat because that place is so tough to get around," Sospenzo said. "It carries so much speed in the corners. We need to go there this weekend with McDowell and take our time and not get in a big rush. He needs to gain experience, log all the laps and leave with a good finish."

For McDowell, racing at The Brickyard may be the ultimate experience.

"Growing up, I was an open wheel guy and it's going to be one of the coolest places for me to race at on the circuit," McDowell said. "The Indy 500 at The Brickyard was the biggest thing going when I was growing up, but I never got to do anything there in an open wheel car. It's funny because The Brickyard is what got me excited about NASCAR. There have been so many great winners of both the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400. Just to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an incredible experience and it's something I will never forget."

Live coverage of the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard starts at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN and 2 p.m. ET on IMS radio network.

-credit: mwr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Michael McDowell , Brian Vickers
Teams Hendrick Motorsports