Michael McDowell Closes Out Season With Fourth At Iowa Fifth ARCA Start Yields Career-Best Finish and Second-Straight Top-Five DENVER, NC (October 16, 2006) -- Actor Robert Redford played a character named Roy Hobbs in the 1984 film "The...
Michael McDowell Closes Out Season With Fourth At Iowa
Fifth ARCA Start Yields Career-Best Finish and Second-Straight Top-Five
DENVER, NC (October 16, 2006) -- Actor Robert Redford played a character named Roy Hobbs in the 1984 film "The Natural." Hobbs was a baseball player who astonishingly appeared on the major league scene seemingly out of nowhere and dominated the game and lived out his boyhood dreams.
While 21-year-old Michael McDowell may not have come from obscurity, as he had been making a name for himself in the road-racing series for the past few seasons, his name was relatively unknown in stock car ranks up until this past summer. McDowell burst upon the scene in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in August with Eddie Sharp Racing and instantly became a phenomenon. McDowell ran up front at Milwaukee and then was headed to the front again the next race at Chicagoland, but both runs ended with McDowell being an innocent victim of incidents. But then McDowell rattled off two top-10 finishes, a sixth at Salem and a fifth at Talladega.
McDowell saved the best for last, as the young driver closed out his 2006 season in the Z-Line Designs, Southern New Hampshire University Dodge Sunday afternoon at the new Iowa Speedway with a career-best fourth-place finish. He ended the season with three top-six finishes in his first five stock car starts, earning him the new nickname of "The Natural."
"We had a pretty good run today and in all of my starts this year," said McDowell. "It took us a while to get prepared and to figure out what we need to do as a driver and as a team to run up front and win races. Today was just another step in the progression of this team. The Z-Line Designs, Southern New Hampshire University Dodge was really good today.
"Many thanks to Rob Finlay and Eddie Sharp Racing for giving me this opportunity. The guys worked really well together and they worked for me. I came on late in the season, which is tough to do for any program after people already have chemistry and relationships. I was just happy to come on, and they welcomed me into the program, and we've run well since I first got in the car."
Sunday's career-best finish certainly was hard-earned. He qualified ninth at the new Iowa Speedway facility, his first top-10 qualifying effort of his rookie season. From the drop of the green flag, McDowell began working his way to the front of the field. He stayed inside the top-10 for much of the 250-lap race and used the team's pit stops and the lapped traffic as learning experiences to build off of.
"The biggest thing I've had to learn this year is what changes we need to make to win races. We did a good job of that today. We made some changes in the middle of the race to get the car better. Then we got a little too tight, but we freed it up at the end and the car was really good. A big learning experience for me was getting through the lapped traffic and figuring out the right time to pass them.
"The problem was that there were a lot of good lapped cars. They were fast and able to race with the leaders. They must have had just some bad luck or whatever and got caught a lap down. It wasn't like the leaders were running around guys that were two seconds off or anything; most of the lapped cars were pretty fast. It's tough for them to give it up, and it made it hard for us to get around them. That's just something we're going to have to work on and get better at."
McDowell now heads into a busy off-season that will have the Eddie Sharp Racing team hard at work preparing for a run at even more success and accolades during the 2007 season.
"We did a good job overall today, and I think we've got a good shot at winning some races next year. Hopefully next year we'll learn from everything we did this year, keep building on the momentum and contend for the championship."