· McDOWELL LOOKING FOR A LITTLE REDEMPTION: Michael McDowell isn’t one to show his disappointment. Ask him, and he’ll tell you that he’s getting an amazing opportunity to drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on several occasions in 2011 and there is nothing to be disappointed about in that. But in the back of his mind, McDowell might just be looking to make up for some disappointment and get himself and the No. 18 team a little redemption this weekend in Montreal. McDowell proved himself quite the road race specialist earlier this season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Road America. McDowell captured his first-career NASCAR pole at Road America, touring the four-plus mile road course nearly a full second faster than the second-place qualifier Max Papis. McDowell then went on to lead a race-high 30 laps and had a 15-second lead before a late-race caution bunched the field. On the ensuing restart, McDowell slid off the track and spun in the grass, leading to an eventual 12th-place finish.
· NOT A MONTREAL FIRST-TIMER: This will not be McDowell’s first go around at the 14-turn Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. McDowell has competed twice at the speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He ran the event in 2009 with the Keselowski family-owned No. 96. In that event, McDowell started 32nd and ran as high as sixth before coming home a respectable 11th. Last season, McDowell qualified 12th in the No. 81 machine and ran as high as eighth in the event before engine failure knocked him out of the race.
· CHASSIS: The JGR team will take chassis #133-18 this weekend to Montreal. Despite the fact that the team has had two road course events already in 2011, this will be the first time this chassis has been run all season long.
· STAT OF THE WEEK: 66. McDowell has led a total of 66 laps this season in just four starts behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Those 66 laps have come in three different races (Iowa 1, Road America, Iowa 2). Prior to this season, McDowell had led a total of just eight laps in his entire Nationwide Series career.
Michael McDowell Quotes: “Road course racing is the biggest part of my racing background and it’s what I’ve done the most, but it’s kind of funny because I haven’t talked about it much because I haven’t been in a really good road race car in NASCAR. When I got to Road America in the No. 18, I kind of knew we were going to have a special weekend even though everyone else didn’t. I’d been looking forward to that race for a long time and we were just a few laps away from winning it. So Montreal is really about redemption for me from Road America. I know we are going to have a great car and this will be a great opportunity to get another pole and have another chance for the win. I know it’s going to be tough though as there will be a lot of good road course specialists there as well.
“Montreal is a very cool track. I tell people it’s kind of like the Martinsville of road course racing. It’s tight and you’ve got concrete walls and not a lot of run off all around you, so that place tends to lead to a lot of beating and banging. It’s also very technical and lends itself more to a road racer because it is pretty challenging. You can’t afford to make any mistakes there and you have to be right on point each and every lap to keep running good lap times. It requires a lot of discipline.
“This is also my last scheduled race in the No. 18 for now and my last shot to get these guys a victory. I feel like I owe them one after Road America. The thing is, we’ve been running up front all year long together and not just at the road courses. Maybe this weekend, we can have the same type of performance and hold onto the win. You can never get wins back, so no need to think about Road America too much. For me, to close the deal would be big. I’ll take a lot from Marcos Ambrose winning last weekend at Watkins Glen. He finally closed the deal. You have to put yourself in position to lose a few before you can win one. Maybe this weekend, it will be our turn to win one.”