Daytona 500 Champ Michael McDowell Lives In The Match Lane

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Michael McDowell is the person to beat this Sunday on the Nice American Race. In 2021, the NASCAR Cup Sequence veteran turned the 63rd winner of the Daytona 500, driving his No. 34 Ford Mustang for Entrance Row Sports activities.

Along with exhilarating competitors behind the wheel, the 37-year-old understands that failing to arrange is like getting ready to fail, so forward of this 12 months’s Daytona 500, M&F sat down with the champion and Celsius athlete to learn the way he trains for all times within the quick lane.

Daytona have to be fairly the adrenaline rush?

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It’s insane. I’ve by no means been a fighter pilot, however that’s what I evaluate it to. You keep laser targeted on the duty, and also you don’t actually have an entire lot of additional capability to be desirous about anything, you’re simply fixated on what you must do within the automobile — actually to remain alive, proper? I imply, it’s simply loopy. You’re three, 4 [cars deep], 200 miles an hour, inches aside, and also you’re making decisive and calculated strikes with solely a matter of inches away from catastrophe. You simply keep so intense and so targeted that even when the race is over, it’s onerous to unwind since you’re simply in that mode of struggle or flight for therefore lengthy.

How do you are feeling about returning to Daytona, to defend your championship?

This 12 months it’s been superior. I feel it’s enjoyable, you already know, to go there this weekend and be the reigning champion. Coming again to a spot that was actually particular for us final 12 months. There’ll be numerous buzz, numerous hype, and numerous enjoyable. So, I’m simply taking it in and having fun with it. I’m additionally realizing that we now have the chance to do it once more and to go back-to-back. We’re all the time grateful for the outcomes and the accomplishments that we’ve achieved, however we’re all the time searching for the following one, too. So, no higher method to kick off the season than to attempt to go back-to-back at Daytona.

Has racing all the time been your sport of selection?

I raced BMX bikes rising up, so yeah, I’ve all the time been racing one thing.

You spend time in places with scorching climates. Does that allow you to to arrange for driving 500 miles on a moist course?

Dwelling in North Carolina now, and being from Phoenix, are like utterly totally different heats. In Phoenix, you might have that dry-hot, 125 levels — not that a lot enjoyable. So, they’re each scorching. I discover the East Coast is nearer to what it’s like contained in the racecar. The warmth contained in the automobile has that “onerous to breathe” type of warmth to it, whereas within the desert, it’s similar to, you possibly can’t contact something.

It seems like there’s no substitute for acclimatizing to the precise warmth contained in the automobile?

You possibly can prepare within the offseason all you need, however nothing trains you for the race automobile just like the race automobile itself. Simply the [race] period and all these issues. These first 5 races [in the winter months] are fairly delicate temperatures, so it’s simple to get again within the swing after which then as you get into the late spring and early summer time, all of it begins to ramp up. It will get fairly troublesome, so the warmer it’s, the tougher it’s for certain. Actually, not turning on air con once I get in your automobile is one thing that I do. I simply actually sweat it out to get used to the warmth.

Do you prepare bodily within the warmth, too?

I attempt to get out throughout the hottest a part of the day. So, most individuals get up and do their exercise within the morning, or they do it within the night after work. I attempt to do mine at midday, you already know, within the summertime, within the hottest a part of the day. Whether or not that’s cardio or biking or operating … simply making an attempt to be in, you already know, high-intensity conditions whereas it’s scorching. The sauna, steam room, all these issues assist.

How do you gas your physique?

These lengthy period races are over 4 hours. So, you’ve received to gas your physique nicely, and you must perceive your physique to know what your physique must maintain power for that lengthy.

For me, it’s simply discovering natural meals, nothing processed. It’s been a little bit of a trial-and-error course of … as a result of you already know, you don’t wish to go into the race so loaded up that you are feeling sluggish and torpid. However, you additionally must have sufficient meals … so at the same time as loopy as sounds, simply having the appropriate physique fats proportion and never being too lean for me is a large factor. After I get too lean, I’m good for about two and a half hours however the final hour and a half, I’m actually struggling.

Entrance row motor sports activities

How usually do you’re employed out?

You recognize, I awakened this morning and took the children to high school, had a Celsius on the best way to the gymnasium. My spouse and I did a type of cross coaching session, bootcamp fashion, for pace, agility… type of fast-paced stuff. At the moment was squats, soar squats, deadlifts, hamstring curls, leaping lunges, reverse lunges. Two or three days out of the week it is going to be one thing like that. After which for the opposite two or three days, I’ll both cycle or run outdoors.

Do you discover that coaching together with your spouse lets you keep accountable?

Jami is beast mode. She’s extremely aggressive, and tremendous Match. So, she retains me motivated, for certain.

Racing requires such quick cognitive expertise. Do you do any sort of reactive drills?

We do totally different coaching all year long and within the offseason. We’ll do hand-eye coordination coaching and simulation. Once you’ve so long as I’ve achieved it, and also you’ve seen numerous totally different conditions, you simply depend on intestine, and it’s normally the very best choose of what it’s essential to do. However staying sharp and staying targeted is a large a part of our sport, for certain. Once you keep sharp, you keep targeted and also you keep wholesome. You’re in a position to attract again on these experiences in half the response time, and have that hand-eye coordination and be capable of course of issues at a faster fee. So, I feel it’s a mix of coaching and expertise.

The type of coaching that you simply do is placing your self in these forms of depressing conditions, whether or not it’s coaching whereas fasting, you already know, doubling exercise durations and issues like that, during which you simply actually really feel such as you don’t have any extra power to go, and also you’ve simply received to have the ability to discover that additional gear.

Psychological toughness have to be non-negotiable if you end up within the midst of an extended race?

I’m astonished with simply how onerous you possibly can push by issues. So, I really feel like for me, so long as I don’t ever get to the purpose the place I’m going off [mentally], and it’s scorching, and even desirous about being drained; I’m high quality, I can push by it. However as quickly as you begin desirous about these issues, you’ve already misplaced the battle. So, it’s simply retaining in the appropriate way of thinking and retaining your mind fixated on the appropriate stuff.

Nascar driver Michael McDowell drinking a can of Celsius next to his race car
Entrance row motor sports activities

Do you are taking Celsius with you into the automobile?

I drink it earlier than the race, and that simply actually helps with getting the readability and focus, and power, that it’s essential to get going and to be sharper… to be able to go. I exploit it the identical method as I might as a pre-workout.

So how do you relax in your downtime?

For me, it’s searching. It’s the other of what I do for a residing. Like, you’ve received to be nonetheless and quiet and you’ll’t transfer quick. I feel that’s why I do it a lot, as a result of it’s actually enjoyable.

Observe Michael McDowell Right here!



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