Finlay's First Start Ends on The Podium Daytona Beach, Fla. -- February 4, 2005 -- Winning traditions are built on blood, sweat and tears -- fortunately for the Finlay Motorsports team, the fruit of their labor came quickly, as Rob Finlay and...
Finlay's First Start Ends on The Podium
Daytona Beach, Fla. -- February 4, 2005 -- Winning traditions are built on blood, sweat and tears -- fortunately for the Finlay Motorsports team, the fruit of their labor came quickly, as Rob Finlay and Michael McDowell proved to be a potent one-two punch.
The number 60 M3 methodically climbed the Daytona International Speedway tree all day. Starting 14th, Finlay staunchly battled for 12th place with the 17 and 43 cars for the nearly the entire first half of the Grand Am Cup 200, before springing into 9th. Finlay wisely pitted on lap 27, handing over the reigns to McDowell with a full tank of gas and a new set of rubber -- and a drop to 19th place, due to a couple of miscues in the pits.
McDowell quickly vaulted back onto the leader board, finding himself skirmishing for 14th then 12th place, the very positions his co-driver fought for just a few laps prior. Again, just as Finlay had done, once breaking the barrier of the 12th position, McDowell rocketed up the ladder while breaking off the race's fast lap. With just ten laps to go in sixth place, McDowell was locked in on every car in front of him, leaping through the next three positions, securing a third-place finish for the team in their rookie start. In the process, McDowell also proved his ability to push the limits, posting the fast lap of the race.
McDowell credited Finlay for the dynamic finish: "When I got in the car halfway through the race, I knew that Rob had positioned us to make up some more ground on the leaders." McDowell added: "The car was running great and I was able to take four new tires so once I got going I knew that it was just a matter of time before we'd be right in the mix of things."
Before the race Finlay predicted a would-be podium finish for him and McDowell: "I haven't had a sip of alcohol in three weeks in preparation for this race -- I swear the first drink I'll have will be champagne." Finlay's prophecy came true, as he did his part to christen Daytona's newly constructed Gatorade Victory Lane. McDowell celebrated at the team's garage, having missed the official festivities.
Both Finlay and McDowell were pleased to share the monumental day with the Make-A-Wish foundation and the Wish family who joined Finlay in victory lane for pictures.
Michael McDowell completes his double-duty tomorrow into Sunday as he, Memo Gidley, Michael Valiante and Jonathan Bomarito hope to match the accomplishment of a podium finish in the Rolex 24 behind the wheel of the Ten Motorsports Daytona Prototype.