9th at Daytona 500
Huntersville, N.C. (February 26, 2013) – Michael McDowell shocked the NASCAR world with an unbelievable performance in the season’s biggest race, the Daytona 500. Few expected the No. 98 K-LOVE Ford fielded by Phil Parsons Racing to shine against the powerhouse teams that filled the 43-car field. But McDowell did just that. Refusing to yield, he pedaled his way to a ninth-place finish. It marked his career-best effort at the historic 2.5-mile, high-banked race track.
Coming into the event, McDowell had five previous Sprint Cup starts at Daytona. His best finish was 25th place, which he achieved in the 2008 July race. Phil Parsons Racing also had five prior starts at the track. The squad’s best performance was in 2009, finishing 24th with Terry Labonte behind the wheel. With most of the cars on this year’s entry list belonging to highly-funded, multi-car operations, it seemed unlikely that this would be the year for the single-car PPR team and McDowell to raise the bar.
McDowell started the race in 38th place. His game plan was simple – get in the lead pack, avoid trouble and give it all he had at the end of the race.
“Anything can happen at Daytona, and often does,” McDowell said. “All it takes is one mistake up front and the rest of the field pays for it. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t get taken out of contention early on. I wanted to spend my time learning about my car, how it ran in the draft and the best places to try and make passes. But most of all, I didn’t want to push the issue and get caught up in a wreck.”
McDowell’s plan worked like a charm. At the midpoint of the race, Lap 100, McDowell was riding in 34th place. He sprang into action for the last quarter of the event. On Lap 150, the K-Love Ford was inside the top-20, riding in 18th place.
“I knew I had to put myself in position for a good finish,” continued McDowell. “Everyone tries and make a charge at the end of the race, so I had to go, too. It started getting pretty crazy and when businesss started to pick up my spotter got me in the right line. It all started coming together. By that point, I knew what my car was capable of and where my best opportunities were to make passes. The last five laps were pretty intense. I just kept the pedal down and stayed full speed ahead.”
McDowell took the checkered flag in ninth place, setting a new standard for himself and PPR at Daytona. He made a total of 221 green flag passes and ran 57 laps inside the top 15.
“It was an amazing way to start the year,” said McDowell after the race. “This is a really special race and everyone pulls out all the stops to get a good finish. We might not have some of the resources that a lot of the bigger teams have, but we still ran with the best of them. I’m so proud of my team. I want to thank K-LOVE for their support and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”