McBlog: The road to Daytona

By Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series driver from Glendale, Ariz. His “McBlog” appears weekly during the NASCAR season at and . In this installment, McDowell looks back on his weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

Our trip to Daytona last week was action-packed before we even made it on the track … actually before we even made it to Florida!

My friend and driver of the No. 99 NASCAR Nationwide Series car, Trevor Bayne, joined my family and me in the “McCoach” for the drive down from North Carolina. Let’s just say we had a few “minor” issues on the ride.

After hearing a few loud pops and bangs coming from the roof of the McCoach, we decided to pull over and see what was happening. After a quick survey of the vehicle, we soon discovered that the satellite dish’s plastic dome cover had blown off. Oh well, right? Wrong. Shortly after we elected to continue down the road, the satellite began to spin around and the wind ripped it out of its mounts. Particles of debris fell on my wife Jami’s head.

With the sky falling inside the coach, we stopped again. Trevor and I climbed on the roof one more time to find that – luckily – the satellite was still there (but wouldn’t be for long if we had kept on riding). On the soft shoulder of I-95, with semi trucks whizzing by at 70 mph just four feet away, we somehow yanked off the dish and rolled on to Daytona without incident.

Of course this trip to Daytona was a big one for those of us in the Nationwide Series, as it meant the debut of NASCAR’s new car for the series. Running the new NNS car meant one extra day of testing to work out the bugs, so we got right to work once we made it to town. Our MacDonald Motorsports team did a great job preparing the No. 81 Dodge Challenger and we even topped the charts in Happy Hour.

Sprint Cup qualifying got rained out, which meant that our No. 55 Prism Motorsports Team went home without even a shot at making the race. That was a real bummer, because in practice we where fast enough to make it. That kind of stuff can get to you if you let it, but I have zero control over the weather.

Back to the Nationwide Series race … My plan was to ride in the back until the end. Hindsight shows that wasn’t the perfect plan, but we only have one Nationwide “Car of Tomorrow” for four races with it and getting wrecked halfway through our first event would have been silly.

Still, we had our shot if not for a stroke of bad luck. I received the “Lucky Dog” with 25 laps to go, but as I got set to join the pack on the lead lap I ran out of gas (just as I was passing the pace car). What are the chances? Crazy!  This was really unfortunate because we had a really good car. With only 25 laps to go, we fought for the Lucky Dog one more time and came up a spot short.  On the positive side, we finished the race in one piece and move on to Chicagoland this week.

I love Chicagoland, as it’s where I captured one of my four victories in the ARCA Series. My family and I will begin a road trip this week that takes us from Huntersville, NC to Chicagoland, then to St Louis and eventually to the Brickyard. All-told it will be a 3-week extravaganza that hopefully allows for just a tiny bit of down time with Jami and our 16 month old son Trace.

The Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola runs on Friday, airing at 4:30 p.m., Arizona time, on ESPN.

See you at the Races!

For more on McDowell, visit You can follow him on Twitter at and Facebook at

Tickets for 2010 at Phoenix International Raceway can be purchased online at or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223). The PIR Ticket Office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 125 S. Avondale Blvd., just south of I-10 at Exit 131 in Avondale.

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