Ford Performance NASCAR: Michael McDowell Celebrates 2021 Daytona 500 Victory With Family

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Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang, wasn’t able to celebrate his 2021 Daytona 500 victory with his family in Victory Lane due to COVID protocols.  That changed today when he and his entire family got to recreate that moment.

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang – “This was totally unexpected.  We’ve done this as a family for a lot of years and even coming down here to Daytona before I was in NASCAR, I came down here for the 24 Hours and it was always the kickoff to your year.  It was a fresh start, a brand new year with new opportunities and a brand new season.  We sort of made that a tradition at our house.  It started off just my wife and I.  We would drive down here in the motorhome and then we had our oldest and we’d come down every year.  The only year that they weren’t here was the year I won the 500, so it was a wild series of events because we’ve been doing it for so long.  There are lots of special moments here, not just winning the 500, but taking first steps in the motorhome – silly stuff like that because we’ve been on the road together and traveled together for so much over those years.  Being able to celebrate as a family.  There’s always highs and lows in life and in career and to be able to do it together we’ve never separated it where daddy goes to the racetrack and they stay home.  It’s always been a family thing that we’ve done together, so it’s cool to be able to have them not only be a part of it, but celebrate and feel how special it is.”

IS THIS A MOMENT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WANTING TO HAVE AND BEING IN VICTORY LANE?  “You always dream of this being the most iconic race probably in the world, the Daytona 500.  It’s something you dream of and you always have that thought of what if, but when you finally do it and it actually happens it’s very surreal.  It really is.  It’s just a crazy feeling and evening and all of it was just so much hard work and so much went into it and such a long time, so you go through a lot of emotions and adrenaline and everything is pumping and it’s just a really special place for sure.”

YOUR KIDS ARE HAVING FUN OVER THERE WITH THE CONFETTI.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU TO SEE THEIR JOY WITH THIS EXPERIENCE?  “It’s neat, it really is because wins aren’t guaranteed.  This is such a tough sport and especially at Daytona it’s such a hard place to have everything come together and get a victory, so for them to be with me through all the struggles, too.  There have been lots of those hard conversations like, ‘Daddy, when are you going to win?  So and so daddy’s wins.’  This is their family.  They grew up in the garage, so this is all they know and so their friends dad’s race and it’s just like this is our little crazy community, so for them to be able to understand the significance and how important it is and what it means to all of us is really cool.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU WHEN YOU WON AND GOT TO THE AIRPORT WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY THERE TO MEET YOU?  “It was a weird time in life in general for everybody, and there were some fans in the stands but there wasn’t a lot.  Your crew guys were allowed where the media is at, but not really like fully engaged.  I remember one of the officials coming up to me and was like, ‘Don’t be hugging and high-fiving right now.’  It was like, ‘OK, this is strange protocols,’ but it was still enjoyable.  It was still awesome.  It was still the Daytona 500 and the most significant win I’ll ever have, so it was still a great, great moment, and then no different than like today flying home.  I just figured it was like any other day.  You’re gonna fly home and you’ll get home and see your family and it will be awesome and a cool moment.  You’ve got the trophy with you, so when we got to the airport and my family is there and all of our friends were there it was a really cool moment and a really special moment.  It was unexpected and just neat.  Accomplishments or achievements are neat, but they don’t really have much meaning if you don’t have anybody to celebrate it with, so it was just cool to have so much support and so many people excited and happy to see us finally get a win.  It was something that I’ll remember, for sure and, like I said, a surprise.  It’s hard to surprise me because I’m a control freak and I’m usually in all of the details and planning everything.  Nothing really gets by me, but with so much chaos going on it was really special to have that surprise.”

“Today, honestly, I thought we were doing an NBC interview – a sit down with the family and talking about the Brickyard and talking about Daytona.  I really did think that.  Like I was saying earlier, with my kids I’ve always wanted them to be a part of it, but I never wanted them to feel the pressure of having to perform for TV or media or all that.  I just wanted them to be kids, but now that they’re getting older they think it’s cool.  It’s not like a weird thing for them, but I was talking to Rylie and was like, ‘if you don’t feel like talking, just tell me you don’t want to talk.  It’s no big deal.  You can just stand with us and we’ll take some pictures.’  I was kind of prepping her for an interview in case somebody asked her a question, so this is really cool and really special.  Now I’ve got to do it a couple times, but this is their first here and, who knows, maybe we can do it again tonight.”

Campbell Marketing & Communications for Ford Performance

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