McDowell closes ARCA career with win at Toledo Prospective NASCAR driver is ARCA win leader, top rookie TOLEDO, OH (October 14, 2007) - On a day that was considered Michael McDowell's swan song race in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, McDowell sang a...
McDowell closes ARCA career with win at Toledo
Prospective NASCAR driver is ARCA win leader, top rookie
TOLEDO, OH (October 14, 2007) - On a day that was considered Michael McDowell's swan song race in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, McDowell sang a tune that would be remembered as one of the most eye- popping single-race performances in series history.
The Phoenix, Arizona native scored his fourth career victory-first at a short track-in a race that saw the 22 year-old dominate but also seal the victory at Toledo Speedway with a late race pass that any fan would appreciate.
McDowell started the weekend off on the right foot, landing the ARCA SIM Factory Pole Award with a blistering-fast time of 16.469, over 1.5 tenths of a second faster than teammate Ken Butler III, the second place qualifier. While Saturday in Toledo was designated for McDowell's metaphorical attempt at breaking the sound barrier, Sunday was all about seeking the win in his No. 2 Lotame / Make-A-Wish Dodge. He didn't disappoint.
From the drop of the green flag, McDowell extended his lead to well over ten car lengths in the race's first ten laps. In what looked to be a route of the 35-car field, McDowell led the first 109 laps before making his lone pit stop of the day. McDowell made quick work of new leader Justin Allgaier, reclaiming the lead on lap 117. For the next 54 laps, the former Rolex Sports Car Series winner and Star Mazda Series champion pummeled the field, not flinching out of the lead until lap 171 when lapped traffic caught the front pack and 17 year-old James Buescher swooped by McDowell for the first place position.
With less than 30 to go, McDowell and Buescher played a cat-and-mouse game in between several race stoppages thanks to a myriad of individual accidents in the event's closing laps. McDowell patiently tested the waters, attempting to make a pass one groove higher than the line Buescher was running. His patience would prove to be a virtue in a two-lap dash to the checkered.
With Buescher leading and McDowell trailing in second, the 200-mile finale re-started with two laps to go. With an immediate jump on the re-start, McDowell pressed Buescher to the high side of turn one. Buescher blocked but McDowell got enough of a jump to stick his bumper underneath his opponent's machine. After a light bump-and-run maneuver, McDowell took the white flag and the ensuing checkered to score win number four on the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule.
A noticeably appreciative McDowell soaked in the win, which clinched him the highest win total for all ARCA competitors in 2007:
"I'm happy about this one," said a beaming McDowell. "This is for everyone at Eddie Sharp Racing. They never cease to prove that they can rise to the occasion and to take home this trophy, get my first short track win, and go out like this is a testament to their ability and dedication."
McDowell enjoyed re-living the winning pass:
"When James (Buescher) got by me, I figured we could get the lead back in short order but he owned that bottom line and I wasn't sure if moving up one groove would work or not. I didn't want to get into the back of him, but that move was my only chance to do it. He's going to be an outstanding driver and he raced me clean, which I appreciate. I had a blast today. It was such an awesome race. I love this track and this is one last memory I'll hold on to from this year."
McDowell was named the series' Rookie of the Year following the conclusion of the race. In addition, he brought home the Stewart Warner Lap Leader Award (most laps led in the series) and scored the race's Holley Halfway Leader Award (his fifth), the ARCA SIM Factory Pole Award (his ninth), and the Accel Fastest Lap of the Race.
Next stop: NASCAR.
McDowell's graduation to racing's hallowed ground didn't come without a spectacular dabble in one of the most versatile racing series on the planet. His tenure in ARCA was only one year long but the experience was worth the while:
"What a terrific year," McDowell continued. "We didn't win the championship and I congratulate Frank (Kimmel) on that accomplishment, but everything that happened this year made me become a better race car driver. Everyone who helped, Z-Line Designs, Make-A-Wish, Mission Residential, Lotame, Beck, Dodge, and Eddie Sharp Racing, meant so much to me, allowing me come and run a year in this series. The next step in my career will no doubt be a tough transition but I welcome the challenge and feel that I'm more prepared to take on that journey thanks to this year."