McDowell earns top-20 finish in Busch Series debut GRAPEVINE, TX (November 6, 2007) - Michael McDowell made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway a grand one, making the seamless transition from ARCA dominance to NASCAR ...
McDowell earns top-20 finish in Busch Series debut
GRAPEVINE, TX (November 6, 2007) - Michael McDowell made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway a grand one, making the seamless transition from ARCA dominance to NASCAR competition. While his startup Michael Waltrip Racing team worked without the aid of a garage stall over the course of the weekend, McDowell found speed out of the No. 00 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota early and often.
During the rookie practice session on Friday afternoon, McDowell clicked off the second fastest lap of the entire day with a lap of 28.749 seconds. After getting a dreadfully early qualifying draw, the Arizona native went out second and laid down a quicker time of 28.724 seconds. As the qualifying session crept to evening, the cooler weather allowed for faster times. At the end of the session, McDowell would find himself in the show, starting seventeenth in the 43-car field.
At the drop of the green flag on Saturday afternoon, McDowell hovered in the top-twenty, wrestling a loose condition but managing to stay competitive. The first opportunity to pit couldn't come soon enough as McDowell brought his Toyota into the pit area on lap 20 for four fresh Goodyear tires and a chassis adjustment. Unfortunately, McDowell overshot his pit on entry and had to back the car up, costing valuable track position. He would quickly look to make up for lost ground.
A long green flag run greeted McDowell. Race leader Tony Stewart, setting a torrid pace, lapped the NAPA Toyota on lap 73. Unfettered, McDowell moved up to 24th position before a round of green flag pit stops kicked off on lap 88. He pitted again, still a tad loose, looking for more tires, fuel, and another tweak of the chassis. While his entry was flawless, one of the old tires got loose and rolled along the pit road. The NAPA Auto Parts team was assessed a drive-through penalty which put them further off the lap.
After the penalty, the former Star Mazda Series champion gained a head of steam, looking to make up ground on the track. He did just that, re-entering the top 25.
A caution on lap 128 brought another round of stops. This time, a perfect stop was executed as the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing team packed McDowell's Toyota full of fuel and four tires. McDowell charged all the way to twentieth place before the fall of the checkered flag.
McDowell's day wasn't perfect but he was pleased with his first stock car start with Michael Waltrip Racing:
"It was unfortunate that we had some pit road mistakes today but overall, especially this being a last minute deal, this was exactly what we needed," said McDowell. "We ran all the laps, we stayed competitive, Butch (Hylton, crew chief) and everyone with the NAPA Toyota team were completely supportive of me during my first Busch Series weekend.
"We know we can run with these guys here. I look forward to Phoenix. We'll bring a better car, maybe raise our expectations a little bit, and put ourselves in position to compete for a win."