BUSCH: Homestead: Michael McDowell race report

Transmission woes mar McDowell's charge to the front; Strong run in season finale goes awry for McDowell HOMESTEAD, FL (November 20, 2007) - Michael McDowell's 2007 has been full of late-race charges and spectacular finishes. That's why in the...

Transmission woes mar McDowell's charge to the front; Strong run in season finale goes awry for McDowell

HOMESTEAD, FL (November 20, 2007) - Michael McDowell's 2007 has been full of late-race charges and spectacular finishes. That's why in the NASCAR Busch Series season finale, McDowell's late-race misfortune was considered "unorthodox" for the Arizona native.

McDowell fought a loose condition in Friday afternoon's practice session in a research & development car from the Michael Waltrip Racing stable. With qualifying and race set to take place just 24 hours later, McDowell and crew chief Butch Hylton worked on the balance of the car as opposed to any serious mock qualifying runs.

Saturday morning saw promise as McDowell's lap of 31.954 seconds put the No. 00 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota third on the scoring pylon for the time being. A late-session cloud cover after McDowell's early draw saw quicker times in the session. After time trials concluded, the ARCA Rookie of the Year found himself lining up 26th on the evening's starting grid.

McDowell's night looked to be on the upswing-he navigated into the top fifteen with 24 laps to go (after running in the top-twenty for the majority of the evening), before catching a much-needed yellow for the race's final green flag run. With four fresh Goodyear tires, McDowell was poised to charge to the top-ten. Unfortunately on the re-start, the transmission gave way on his Toyota, ending any chance of a decent finish. McDowell pulled his car into the garage on lap 176, ending his night in the 32nd position, short of the finish.

No doubt upset over the outcome, McDowell noted that the team, only three races-old, was stout:

"Any time you break a transmission, it's tough," said McDowell. "I hate this for these guys at MWR but I have to commend them-getting these cars running this well in these last three races is a testament to them. It's been a blast so far with the guys on the No. 00 team. We had a chance at a top-ten tonight and I let them down.

"Everyone at MWR really worked their tails off to make this work for these last three races. Jerry Baxter and Butch Hylton were a pleasure to work with and I'm truly grateful to all of the guys in the MWR shop who put in the overtime to get this second team up and running."

Third Practice is a Charm: While this was the first NASCAR Busch Series weekend in which McDowell did not pace the Rookie Practice Session, he did manage to rip off a lap of 31.583 in Friday's final practice, 15th overall and nearly half a tenth quicker than what he would run in qualifying. It was McDowell's first visit to the oval track layout at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Lucky or Unlucky Number?: McDowell finished 14th last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Ironically, he was running in the 14th position when he broke his transmission.

Next Up: Michael McDowell will participate in several pre-season test sessions for Michael Waltrip Racing with announcements regarding his future plans soon to come. Also, be on the lookout for McDowell to once again compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in February, the single-biggest sports car race in the United States.

-credit: www.mmcdowell.com.

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