McDowell makes Daytona 500 field with a little help from his friends

Michael McDowell will be in the Daytona 500.
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
Michael McDowell will race in the Daytona 500 Sunday thanks to his qualifying effort in the first of two Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying races on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway and a little help from a couple of friends—Trevor Bayne and Robbie Gordon and a pit crew from JTG Daugherty. 

McDowell is good friends with defending Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne who made sure he gave McDowell the drafting help he needed to assure him a spot in The Great American race on Sunday. Bayne had already secured his spot with his qualifying efforts on Sunday.

“It's absolutely the reason I'm in the 500,” McDowell said of the help from Bayne. “There's no doubt about it. Trevor's obviously a close friend of mine. For him to take the unselfish route and help me out, it means a lot to me. There's been a lot of ups and downs for him in his career, as well. It's just cool we've been able to kind of go through those together. For him to push me into the 500 is definitely pretty special.
So the answer to your question, I probably wouldn't have made it, no.”

McDowell also acknowledged the help he received from Robby Gordon, the owner of another small team who also raced his way into the 500 in the same qualifier.
“You guys probably don't know much,” McDowell said, “but a lot of these small teams work together. We don't have the resources. We have six guys at the shop, if we need something, we can go over to Robby's and borrow it. And JTG pitted my car today. It's cool to see. This community has changed over the last few years in the sense that there's not an abundance of people, an abundance of funds, an abundance of parts. It's fun to see everybody working together.”

JTG Daugherty is a one-car team co-owned by Tad and Jodi Geshickter and former NBA player Brad Daugherty.
Gordon was pleased that McDowell made Sunday’s big show. “Yeah, I'm really happy for these guys making the show,” Gordon said in the Media Center. “Our shops are maybe, if, a mile apart. I've got a nice parts department that's open 24 hours.”

When the green flag waves on Sunday and the 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers take to the superspeedway, most drivers will be trying to add to their resumes with a Daytona 500 win.  McDowell will definitely be trying for that, but Thursday night he was just happy that a few friends helped him achieve the first step toward that goal—getting a spot in the Daytona 500.
McDowell makes Daytona 500 field with a little help from his friends McDowell makes Daytona 500 field with a little help from his friends Reviewed by Rosalie Thompson on Thursday, February 23, 2012 Rating: 5