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Michael McDowell Driver Bio

Birthdate: Dec. 21, 1984
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
First Career Cup race: 2008 (Martinsville)
Career Poles: 0 (Cup) | 2 (Xfinity)
Career Wins: 1 (Cup) | 1 (Xfinity)
Best Cup Championship Finish: 23rd – 2020

Michael McDowell, winner of the 2021 Daytona 500, has been on a racing journey all of his life. Starting at a young age, he’s spent countless hours mastering his craft and plotting a course to the top levels of motorsports.

At three years of age he began his racing career as a bicycle motocross (BMX) competitor. At age eight he moved up to the ultra-fast world of Karting, and quickly won the World Karting Association Championship. With an impressive 18-consecutive feature wins, McDowell added back-to-back International Kart Federation Championships to his growing resume of racing accomplishments.

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Continuing to pursue his racing dreams, McDowell graduated to open wheel racing and secured a championship for Formula Renault USA (2002) and Rookie of the Year honors in the Star Mazda Series (2003). He was the Star Mazda Series Champion in 2004 with 7 wins and 6 poles to his credit.

Between 2004 and 2007, McDowell competed in 29 races in the IMSA Series. He secured one win, three podium finishes and two pole awards and finished fourth in team championship points in 2005 and 2006.

McDowell entered stock car racing when he climbed behind the wheel of an ARCA Series car in 2007. In that first season, McDowell secured four wins and earned runner-up in the championship as well as Rookie of the Year honors.

Hand picked by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and team owner Darrell Waltrip, McDowell was soon piloting the No. 17 entry in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. It would be Darrell’s younger brother and fellow team owner Michael Waltrip that would offer McDowell the opportunity to showcase his talents at NASCAR’s top level, hiring him to drive a car in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2008 for retiring Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett.

Following that initial call up to the top level of NASCAR, McDowell has competed in both the Cup and the Xfinity Series. McDowell raced in the Xfinity Series from 2007-2016 (part-time the last five seasons) and earned one win, six top fives, 20 top 10s and two pole awards during that time.

McDowell’s 10th season in the NASCAR Cup Series came in 2016 and it marked his fourth piloting the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing.

The 2017 season marked McDowell’s last with LFR and he finished 26th in the standings.

McDowell finished 26th in the standings again in 2018 in his first season driving the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. He returned with the team in 2019 and finished 27th in the standings after posting fifth-place finishes at Daytona and Talladega.

In 2020, despite a season with no practice and qualifying for a majoirty of the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McDowell posted a career-best four top 10s and a 23rd-place finish in the standings.

McDowell kicked off the 2021 campaign – his fourth full-time with FRM – in grand fashion by capturing his first career Cup Series win in the sport’s biggest race, the Daytona 500.

A devoted family man, Michael and his wife Jami have four children, Trace, Emma, Rylie and Lucas.