rain.png
Thursday May 26th, 2022 2:49PM

Daytona 500 winner McDowell goes karting in hometown

By David Brandt-AP Sports Writer
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Michael McDowell gripped the wheel of his kart and hung on the best he could as an elementary-school aged boy bumped him from behind and prepared for the pass.

There was no doubt about it — the most recent Daytona 500 winner was in big trouble.

“I'm not 80 pounds anymore,” McDowell said laughing. “These guys were all over me.”

The 36-year-old McDowell got a big thrill — and so did a few dozen boys between the ages of 7 and 16 — when he came back to the kart track in suburban Phoenix where he learned to race when he was growing up a few miles away.

It was a typical Thursday night under the lights, with the kids zipping around the asphalt track, having fun, working on their karts and learning the fundamentals of racing.

The only difference? That very large driver in the full Love's firesuit squeezed behind the wheel of one of the karts.

“It's still the purest form of motorsports,” McDowell said. “It's so much fun to come out here, work on your stuff, learn about the feel and learn how to set up a pass. The community of racing. It's something I've always been passionate about.”

The opportunity to come back to his hometown as the reigning Daytona 500 champion seemed like something that was unthinkable even six weeks ago. A 100-1 underdog when the race began, McDowell won for the first time in 358 Cup starts after Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski wrecked on the final lap, allowing McDowell to drive through the crash scene for a stunning upset.

McDowell's still the same humble, self-deprecating guy that he was before the win. He even helped lug his own Daytona 500 trophy across the parking lot before jumping in front of the microphone. The veteran racer said he hasn't changed as a person since the win, but it's still a little surreal.

“Who you are, what you do, it doesn't really change,” McDowell said. “But it does give me a chance to have a bigger platform, to help encourage and inspire young racers coming up."

McDowell grew up a few miles south of the Glendale track and would often ride his mountain bike across the desert terrain to go and compete. His dad was on the board of the track.

“It wasn't like we just showed up, we were a part of the club,” McDowell said. “I was here when we put the asphalt down.”

McDowell pointed to different sections of the track, showing where they had to level out bumps to make for a smoother ride. He hadn't been back for nearly 15 years and said he was pleased that the next generation was taking such good care of it.

He hopes the sport continues to become more accessible and allow kids from different backgrounds to participate.

“Karting is getting to be a little less expensive at the entry level, but it's still a little too expensive,” McDowell said. “There needs to be more development, there needs to be more manufacturing and team dollars poured into karting like it is in Europe.

“There's a gap that needs to be filled but karting, as a whole, is doing really well.”

WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of the NASCAR race weekend from Phoenix Raceway, beginning with Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series Call 811 Before You Dig 200 beginning at 5 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.  Coverage continues on Sunday with the NASCAR Cup Series Instacart 500 beginning at 2:30 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN, NASCAR Cup Series
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Daytona 500 winner McDowell goes karting in hometown
Michael McDowell gripped the wheel of his kart and hung on the best he could as an elementary-school aged boy bumped him from behind and prepared for the pass.
8:10AM ( 10 seconds ago )
Basketball: Towns County looks for first-ever state title
On Saturday at 12:30 p.m., the Towns County boys basketball team will try to achieve something no other Indians program has been able to in its history: win a state title...
7:36AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Boys soccer: Gensler, Warriors stage improbable rally to beat Bluff
Hayden Gensler doesn’t know exactly what happened, but the White County senior is sure glad it did...
11:28PM ( 8 hours ago )
Sports
Ty Gibbs dominates ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix
Only two challengers had chances to stop Ty Gibbs from winning Friday’s General Tire 150 for the ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix Raceway in the closing laps.
11:57PM ( 8 hours ago )
Drivers and teams are hoping to learn a lot at Phoenix
This is an especially important weekend on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule as teams compete Sunday in the Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway...
7:17AM ( 1 day ago )
Hartwell, Boyd’s set for 2021 openers this weekend
A pair of Peach State short tracks tops the list of area speedways and series opening their 2021 racing seasons this weekend.
3:00PM ( 1 day ago )
NASCAR News
Kyle Larson celebrates return with 1st win since suspension
Kyle Larson wasn't sure he'd ever race again in NASCAR, and if he could, he didn't know who would even hire him. It was Rick Hendrick who took the chance on a driver...
7:33AM ( 5 days ago )
Kyle Larson scores comeback Cup win at Las Vegas
Kyle Larson left little to chance Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading a race best 103 laps and pulling away to a convincing 3.156-second win over Brad Keselowski...
8:24PM ( 5 days ago )
Larson settled in at Hendrick one month into new job
Kyle Larson was out of NASCAR long enough to wonder if he'd still feel comfortable in a Cup car. He raced in nearly 100 events last year, just not in 3,400-pound stock cars.
6:00AM ( 6 days ago )
NASCAR Cup
Ty Gibbs dominates ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix
Only two challengers had chances to stop Ty Gibbs from winning Friday’s General Tire 150 for the ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix Raceway in the closing laps.
By Tadd Haislop-ARCARacing.com
11:57PM ( 8 hours ago )
Drivers and teams are hoping to learn a lot at Phoenix
This is an especially important weekend on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule as teams compete Sunday in the Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway...
By Holly Cain-NASCAR Wire Service
7:17AM ( 1 day ago )
Hartwell, Boyd’s set for 2021 openers this weekend
A pair of Peach State short tracks tops the list of area speedways and series opening their 2021 racing seasons this weekend.
3:00PM ( 1 day ago )
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn - Larson win no gamble at Las Vegas
While not as unexpected as the three previous winners on the NASCAR Cup Series so far this season, Kyle Larson certainly wasn't thought to be a contender to be a winner...
By AccessWDUN Staff
9:17PM ( 2 days ago )
Kyle Larson celebrates return with 1st win since suspension
Kyle Larson wasn't sure he'd ever race again in NASCAR, and if he could, he didn't know who would even hire him. It was Rick Hendrick who took the chance on a driver...
By Jenna Fryer-AP Auto Racing Writer
7:33AM ( 5 days ago )