Sprint Cup team preview: Leavine Family Racing
January 26, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
McDowell lands ride for 20-race schedule with No. 95 team
-- Scrappy part-time Leavine Family Racing competed in 20 races with four different drivers in 2013. Former Formula One driver Scott Speed delivered the top highlight, the team's first-ever top-10 finish -- a ninth-place showing in the spring Talladega race. Speed also led two laps in the Daytona 500 in the team's No. 95 entry.
-- The team drew attention for its creative ploy for additional sponsorship, painting the car black in select races with a pirate's skull and crossbones on the hood in a "Surrender the Sponsor" marketing push.
2014 Driver Lineup
Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford.
The Leavine team has pegged McDowell for duty as the team's only driver for its 20-race schedule. McDowell logged a pair of highlights in 2013, first opening the season with a ninth-place finish -- his first career top-10 -- for team owner Mike Curb, then winning the pole and finishing second while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Mid-Ohio.
Wally Rogers, who has six victories in his veteran career as a Nationwide Series crew chief, returns atop the pit box for the No. 95 Ford, which will continue to use engines from the Roush Yates operation. The team, which debuted in 2011, has roots in Tyler, Texas -- evident from its Lone Star State-themed logo -- but operates from a shop in Concord, N.C.
McDowell, 29, got his first taste of driving for Leavine Family Racing during the Sprint Showdown qualifier for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race last May. He apparently showed enough spark to lock into every race on the No. 95 team's schedule this season.
The race-to-race continuity should help driver and team build chemistry through the season, but running a part-time schedule places a premium on finding performance in qualifying. LFR failed to qualify for two Sprint Cup starts last year.