Beginning in 2014, Michael McDowell is the driver of NASCAR’s #95 Sprint Cup car owned by Leavine Family Racing. Michael most recently drove for Phil Parson’s Racing and posted his career Sprint Cup best, placing ninth, at the 2013 Daytona 500 and winning the pole for Joe Gibbs Racing at Mid-Ohio in the Nationwide series, finishing second. He has been racing on the Sprint Cup NASCAR circuit since 2008 with over 144 starts as well as driving on the Nationwide series and Truck Series. Michael has driven for teams including: Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing among others.
Michael was born on December 21, 1984 in Glendale, Arizona. His passion for racing began at the age of three as a BMX competitor. As an eight-year-old, Michael began a successful run in karting; winning the World Karting Association championship, back-to-back undefeated International Kart Federation championships along with 18 consecutive feature wins. From 2004-2007, Michael found success in the Grand Am Rolex Series as well as winning the 2004 Championship in the Star Mazda Series. In 2007, he won Rookie of the Year in the ARCA Re/Max Series along with nine pole positions and four victories. In 2007, his success earned him a start with Darrell Waltrip Racing in his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series, driving the #17 truck. Michael joined Michael Waltrip Racing in 2008 in the Sprint Cup Series replacing retired legend Dale Jarrett.
Michael is also remembered for one of the most vicious wrecks in NASCAR history. While performing a qualifying attempt for the 2008 Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2008, his right front sway bar broke entering Turn One, which caused the car to hit the SAFER barrier almost head on at approximately 165 miles per hour. The car spun around once while tipping onto its roof, and then barrel-rolled eight times with fire pouring from the engine, eventually coming to a stop back onto its tires. Due to the advanced safety equipment, Michael walked away from the accident uninjured.
Although racing is a big part of Michael’s life, it defines only what he does for a living, not who he is as a man. Michael is a devoted husband to his wife Jami and to his children Trace (4) and Emma (1). Most importantly, his commitment to his faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which Michael lives his life.
Every Saturday morning Michael attends a Bible study with other NASCAR drivers at the racetracks and is an active member of Motor Racing Outreach. He speaks at 10 to 15 outreach events every year at track campgrounds, local churches and VA hospitals. Jami and Michael also host a bi-weekly Bible study at their home so the wives of drivers can stay connected and grow spiritually as well.