James 1:2-4 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
2008 Samsung 500 Qualifying: Texas Motor Speedway (April 4, 2008)
Michael McDowell was a few weeks into his first season as a NASCAR driver when he became the central figure in one of the sport’s wildest crashes. While qualifying at the 2008 Samsung 500 for Michael Waltrip Racing in the #00 car, McDowell hit a patch of the oil-absorbing agent known as “Speedy Dry” and lost control. Traveling over 200 miles per hour, he hit the protective wall head on and rebounded back towards the track. His car went airborne; violently barrel rolled eight times, and finally landed on its wheels.
With the engine on fire, McDowell incredibly emerged from the wreckage unharmed and waved at the shocked fans as he walked to the ambulance.
“For me to walk away from that wreck is unbelievable,” McDowell told reporters outside of the infield care center. “I just thank God I was able to do that.”
Despite the positive attention that came from his time in the spotlight, the next several years turned out to be an equally tumultuous ride. McDowell took the track for no less than ten teams in all three of NASCAR’s major divisions and on a handful of occasions came close to winning races but never could quite find his way to Victory Lane.
“My career has been one big trial after another,” McDowell told Christian Sports Journal. “I’ve raced for a lot of start and park teams and I haven’t always been able to race at a competitive level. There were times when I showed up at the race track and wondered why I was even doing this.”
But in each of those moments he was able to lean on what he has described as his “life verse.”
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
In 2016, McDowell experienced increments of success while enjoying his most extensive time yet in the Cup Series thanks to a continued commitment from Leavine Family Racing. He even won his first NASCAR race at Road America in a one-race deal with Richard Childress Racing. He then ran the Cup Series full-time for the first time in his career in the 2017 season.
“I’ve had some great runs,” McDowell added. “I’m very thankful for that opportunity. This sport is crazy. There are so many ups and downs. If your faith is determined by your circumstances, it’s never going to work.”
Dear Lord, we thank You for all the things You bring us through. We thank You for the verses You give us in Your word that we can hold onto. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.