McDowell to run FDNY Foundation colors; still looking for 2018 ride

Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing will support the heroes of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) by running a #95 FDNY Foundation paint scheme at Pocono in June. Images from Leavine Family Racing Facebook page (6-6-2017)

Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) are looking to build on their best finish at Dover International Speedway for the Apache Warrior 400. During the team's last trip to Dover, McDowell captured his best finish at the "Monster Mile" and had one of their best ever races at the one-mile oval track. Not only is the team looking to build on their best finish at Dover, but also improve on their qualifying efforts. The team has struggled in qualifying trim during the past few weeks, but is optimistic that Dover will bring good results.

"Dover was really good to us the last time we were there," said McDowell. "We ended up with a Top-20 finish, but we were actually running very well. We ended up having a loose wheel, which messed us up. It was one of those days where we were hoping a caution would fall, but it didn't fall and we had to pit. I feel good about our overall package going back this week. We have something to build on, and it's a lot easier when you ran well there last time."

LFR is excited to have the FDNY Foundation back on board the #95 Chevrolet SS for the fourth time this season. The team first partnered with the FDNY Foundation in Pocono and is honored to have the opportunity to race with the New York City Fire Department's (FDNY) colors on board once again.

LFR and Lionel Racing are currently taking pre-orders to purchase the #95 FDNY Foundation diecast, which is set to go into production in the fall. All purchases of the diecast will result in a portion of sales going back to the foundation. Race fans can pre-order the diecast on LFR's online store, as well as Lionel Racing.

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Michael McDowell is searching for options after Leavine Family Racing announced it will have Kasey Kahne on board for the 2018 season. While the team would like to have two cars down the road, they've chosen the Hendrick Motorsports veteran as their primary option.

"I'm not done yet," McDowell told Frontstretch at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "I don't feel that a door is closing altogether. I just think it's a new chapter and I think I will be back here in the Cup Series. If not, I think I will be doing something in NASCAR at some level."

"My mindset is really about finishing this year strong," he said. "Obviously, you've got to have a job and this is the way I provide for my family, so I'm working on things and I feel really good that there are some options and opportunities. I don't have anything done, yet.

"Luckily, for us, it's been a pretty solid year. Our performance has been good and obviously that helps when you're trying to find a job. You've got to take it one day at a time."

LFR will continue to work with Richard Childress Racing as part of its technical alliance. However, owner Bob Leavine admitted that management did have conversations with Hendrick Motorsports regarding a future partnership.

"We looked at the Hendrick alliance and they were really gracious and talked to us, but we have a two-year relationship with RCR and the timing just didn't work out," he said. "We felt more comfortable not making that switch and having a first-year driver with us. Our engineers know them, our people know RCR and I really believe and know that we're going to have our program be better."

As far as the potential of adding a second car to the driver lineup, that timetable is running out. Leavine said that by mid-October, a sponsorship deal would have to come to fruition to be a possibility heading into Daytona.

McDowell would be welcomed back to the organization if that opportunity materializes. And if he still needs a spot in the sport, Leavine will do what he can for his current driver - even if it's putting him on top of the pit box.

"We're all proud of him and what he's brought is that determination," Leavine said of McDowell. "There's nobody that works any harder in that seat and when he's out of the seat. In fact, I've talked to him about 'If you don't want to drive, we have a place in our organization for you.' I would love for him to work for me. He's a world of knowledge.

"Obviously, I couldn't next year, but he would be a great crew chief down the road. His strategy, what he knows, the cars, the aero, he knows a lot. There's other factors that a driver can bring to a team that are more recognizable, the marketing people can sell. That's one thing that Kasey can bring that Michael hasn't gotten there, yet."

McDowell, meanwhile will try and continue in the sport any way he can for 2018. Just don't throw out the driver label and call him a mechanic just yet.

"I haven't ruled out anything," McDowell elaborated. "I don't know about being a good crew chief. But obviously, being in this sport a long time, you learn a lot. With driving with the teams I've drove for, I've had to be involved in every aspect. It's not where I just show up on Friday and everything's ready to go. It's kind of forced me to understand the business, how the cars work, how teams function and what good leadership looks like.

"I'm sort of in the rhythm now of racing every week and running full-time and feel like I'm in a good spot. I don't feel done yet, and hopefully, I won't be."

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