Michael McDowell is heading to his home track of Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for the Camping World 500 fresh off a Top-20 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) have captured two Top-20 finishes out of the first three 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) races, and are looking to carry the momentum to PIR for the Camping World 500.
McDowell grew up in Glendale, AZ, not far from PIR, where he began racing BMX bikes at a very young age. He then joined the Phoenix Kart Racing Association and raced just down the road from the one-mile track where he would eventually compete in the MENCS.
McDowell recalls seeing many of the greats racing at the banked tri-oval when he was just a kid and looks forward to racing there once again.
“Growing up in Phoenix and going to the races, the thing that stands out to me the most is probably the Copper World Classic,” said McDowell. “The silver crown cars would come, as well as midgets and sprint cars. When I was a kid, Tony Stewart, Mike Bliss, Jeff Gordon and all those guys would come run, and then as I got older, guys like (Jason) Leffler raced there. There are so many sprint car and midget guys that have come up and raced at PIR, Manzanita and all those places. I also remember watching the IndyCar races and seeing the Penske cars, Mears and all those guys. I love coming back to Phoenix and racing where I grew up seeing all the greats race.”
McDowell enjoys returning to his home track, and looks forward to a fun Camping World 500 where he and LFR look to earn another solid finish in the 2017 MENCS season. McDowell’s best finish at PIR is 26th.
“Phoenix is a very fun city for racing,” said McDowell. “ Racing is so big there and you wouldn’t think about it, because there are not that many races, but if you look at the camp ground and the stands when we go to Phoenix, it is unbelievable how big of a turn out we get there. I am definitely looking forward to carrying our momentum from Las Vegas to Phoenix.”
Todd Parrott is also eager to return to his driver’s home track for the second time as McDowell’s crew chief this weekend.
“We had a great run in Las Vegas, so I’m really looking forward to continue the West Coast swing into Michael’s home track,” said Parrott. “There’s always a lot of fans in the stands, and I think it will be a good weekend overall.”
The Camping World 500 will take place on Sunday, March 19 at 3:30 PM ET. Race fans can tune-in to FOX for live coverage and follow @LFR95 on Twitter for race weekend updates.