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Our series of NASCAR driver interviews continues this week with Michael McDowell, who drives Phil Parsons Racing's No. 98 car in the Sprint Cup Series. He has also made five Nationwide Series starts this season, winning the pole at Mid-Ohio and finishing second.

Q: From what you've seen, whose driving style is the most similar to yours?

A: I've gotten to test for a lot of different teams. I would say my style is more similar to Joey (Logano) than anybody. I tested at Charlotte for Joe Gibbs Racing at the beginning of this year in Denny's (Hamlin) car. I've driven Kyle's (Busch) car — and I'm very different than Kyle style-wise.

But Joey would be the first guy that it correlates pretty well with. When he gets in (after McDowell has set it up), he's usually pretty happy with what's been accomplished.

Q: Do you collect any of your own racing memorabilia? Do you keep things like firesuits or helmets?

A: (Grins) You're going to love this: Never. None. I've given everything away.

I get a kick out of people who collect it — and I'm not judging, so don't think I am — but it's like my buddy, Trevor (Bayne). You go into his house and he's got all this Trevor Bayne stuff and I'm like, "Dude. You're in your house, why do you need this? I mean, it's you! Are you serious?" (Laughs) I always give people a hard time about it.

Now I understand 20 or 30 years down the line with kids and grandkids, you'd want to keep some of that stuff. But I honestly only have one or two trophies from my career. I've given everything to family, friends, fans, whatever it is. I really don't have things I keep, but now that I have my son (Trace, 4), I keep a little more for him. Like I'll give him the pole award flag or one of the hats.

I just don't keep any of that stuff and I don't plan on it, because I've got enough stuff laying around.

ARCHIVE: See the full series of 12 Questions

Q: What percent of success in NASCAR has to do with the driver, what percent is the car and what percent is luck?

A: I've never thought about the luck part of it. There are circumstances in racing, but you can control a lot of those circumstances. Like when I go drive those cars for Gibbs in the Nationwide Series, if you're at Montreal and you get T-boned on a restart, there's nothing you can do.

But the odds of that are a lot less when you start on the front row and you have good pit stops and you don't make mistakes, you know what I mean?

So you'll hear a lot of guys comment like, "Well that's what happens when you run 25th." And that's not discrediting the guys who drive the cars back there in 25th, it's just the nature of our sport.

I might put 10% luck in there — maybe — but the rest is 30% driver and 60% car.

Q: What person outside of your family has done the most for your racing career?

A: Rob Finlay. He was a student of mine at Bondurant (high-performance driving school near Phoenix) and a successful business guy. He wanted to go racing, and that's how I got into sports cars and started racing with him. That really launched my professional career. It's crazy.

BY THE NUMBERS: Michael McDowell's career statistics

Q: You come into contact with a lot of people during a race weekend — your team, fans and so on — and all of these people want a piece of your time. With all that demand, how do you decide how to divide it up?

A: Well, I'm not very good at managing all that. But I don't have a lot of obligations like the other guys do.

You know there are a lot of people waiting for autographs at certain racetracks, so I try to make sure to remember that when I go out for qualifying. Like when you walk out at Pocono, you know the fans line those fences there where they have the little cut-through. So I always leave like 20 minutes earlier than I think I need to, because I know I'm going to have to sign.

I think you just try to make an effort to make yourself available. But not having the obligations like the other guys do, so it's completely different. Like when you're in the Chase and being pulled for media here and there — and obviously your (post-practice) debriefs are a lot different than ours are here — you'd have to manage your time more wisely.

Q: I've heard a lot of fans come up to drivers and say something like, "Hey, remember that time I met you at an autograph session three years ago?" That's hard to do, but it shows you fans want to be remembered. If a fan really wants to be remembered by you, what is something he or she could do?

A: There are a lot of things you could come up with, but I'll just give you an example of a guy who stands out. There's a guy who I met at Pocono and he's an eighth-grade teacher. I don't know how I remember that, but I think maybe the first time he asked me to sign something, he had a stack of 10 or 15 (cards) and said they were for his students.

For whatever reason, that just kind of registered. Now, every time I see him — he comes to Pocono and Dover and a few other places — I go, "Hey, you're the eighth-grade teacher." And he's always shocked I remember it. I think it's just things like that that are more personal.

If somebody says they're a fan of yours, that's what everybody says. If it's personal, that helps. Like if people tell me they listen to K-LOVE (McDowell's sponsor), that's almost like a bridge where we connect.

Q: The last person you wrecked — did you do it on purpose?

A: Uh, yeah. The last person I wrecked was Josh Wise — probably my best buddy — and I did it on purpose at New Hampshire. It was only a few weeks ago.

It wasn't really a malicious wreck. We were racing for the lucky dog (free pass position) and the leader was right behind us, so we were going to be in that spot. And there was a competition caution coming up, so we were coming to the checkered flag, if you want to call it that.

We were battling hard off of (Turn 2), and he got loose and never checked up and ran me into the wall! He bounced off of me and bounced me back in the wall. I was like, "Alright..."

But we went down into Turn 3 and he just locked up the tires and gave me a big slide job. I was like, "OK, you already roughed me up all the way down the back straightaway. Now you gave me a big ol' slide job."

So I just gassed it up and spun him around. Yep. It's not something I'm proud of, either (laughs).

How did the conversation go after that, given that you're such good friends?

Well I always tell guys — and myself — to "take a lap." Like if you take a lap, normally you'll cool down enough to make a logical decision. And I didn't take a lap.

So I just said, "Hey man, I'm not making any excuses — but I'm not going to tell you I didn't do it on purpose, either." Because I hate when people are like, "Oh man, I just got in there too hot" — and you know for sure they didn't.

I told him, "I'm dumb. I'm an idiot. I should have waited a lap. I know it doesn't make it right." But we just moved on.

You can't take this deal too seriously. Yes, it's a serious sport and you're going to have conflicts. So you can make a choice to not be friends with anybody and be miserable out here, or you can separate friendships and racing.

It's a sport. We all do it to win and we're competitive and that's why we're here. But it's not everything.

Q: Is there anyone you used to clash with in the garage, but you eventually were able to move on and become friends?

A: I haven't clashed with a lot of people that I know of — at least that has been verbalized to me — but when I first came into the Sprint Cup Series with Michael Waltrip Racing, David Reutimann was my teammate and he did not like me at all.

Our personalities are very different, and I was young and dumb and just full of energy, and he was the opposite. It took probably six months, but I remember sitting down with him one time. He was like, "You know what? I really didn't like you when you first came here." It was one of those conversations where things had changed once he got to know me, and now we've become good friends.

But I don't race enough to have a lot of conflicts, you know what I mean? Like, I'm around , but I'm not competitive enough to have a legitimate conflict every weekend.

Q: What's the best racing-related movie?

A: Well, I just saw Rush, which I enjoyed. I thought it was awesome. I'd say either that or Grand Prix. They're kind of the same sort of feel.

Q: What's your song of the moment right now?

A: Tim Timmons' Starts With Me. Basically, it's about waiting for other people to do stuff when you could just do it yourself. So when he says it "starts with me," he's saying "I can make a difference-maker and make the first move. I don't have to wait for other people to make it happen."

Q: This next one is a question you came up with last year: Define yourself without NASCAR. Who are you away from the track?

A: I would say I'm a follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. That's how I'd answer that.

Why did you think that was an important question to ask other drivers?

I've seen so many people in our sport that are just unhappy. Even as the sport tells them they are successful, they're still unhappy. That's because we allow the sport to define who we are. The sport isn't about who we are, it's just what we do. It's our job and we're passionate about it, but who we are is everything else away from the racetrack.

People will spend their whole entire lives chasing a Cup, but they'll miss life altogether in that process.

Q: I've been asking each driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Mark Martin, and he wanted to know: "Have you thought about what you'll be doing when you're not racing anymore?"

A: I have thought about it, because I'm at that point every year. On this side of the grid, you're always thinking about that.

I'm going to start school again this year. Anything I do, I'll be pursuing something in ministry. Whether that's in a church, in the mission field, whatever, I figure that's what I'm going to be doing the rest of my life, so I might as well be educated in other areas.

Are you going to take classes while you're driving?

Online, yes. So it could take me six years, but I'm going to dedicate as much time to it as I can without jeopardizing what I'm doing right now.

And do you have a question that might be good for the next person?

Yeah. If you had a free weekend and you could race anywhere in the world — on any circuit in any series — what would you race and where?

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MICHAEL MCDOWELL'S THREE FAVORITE APPS

-- YouVersion – It's a Bible app where you can pull up any translation, any language you want. You can just click on a verse and share it.

-- Strava (workout tracker) – It's fun to watch what people are doing and where you've been and what you've done.

-- Twitter – It's an app, but it's more of a lifestyle than an app.

Follow Jeff Gluck on Twitter @jeff_gluck

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