Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trevor Bayne lends an assist

   The Daytona 500 qualifying process of late has brought out the best in some NASCAR drivers.

   Last year, it was Brad Keselowski who drafted with his older brother, Brian, in a two-car tandem, helping Brian claim a transfer spot and making the field for the Daytona 500.

   On Thursday, Michael McDowell got a serious boost in his Gatorade qualifying race to earn a transfer spot as his friend and last year's 500 champion, Trevor Bayne, worked with McDowell for a large portion of the race.

   McDowell said Bayne was "absolutely the reason" he is in the 500 this season.

   "Trevor is obviously a close friend of mine and for him to take the unselfish route and help me out means a lot to me," McDowell said. "There’s been a lot of ups-and-downs for him in his career as well, so it’s just cool we’ve been able to go through those together and for him to push me into the 500 is definitely pretty special."

   Working with a small team (Phil Parsons Racing), McDowell knew the road was going to be tough to make another 500 field.

   "I had to qualify in and I’ve been on the outside looking in too, so just know that this is extremely special not just for me and my family, but for our whole team," he said.

   "We’ve got six guys back at the shop that worked really hard in the off-season to give us a fast car and it’s just cool to be able to carry the Curb-Agajanian brand, the 98 car, and to have K-LOVE radio – a Christian radio network on the car – and to have Curb Records as well is a good start for us. This is the start of big things for us.”