WELCOME, N.C. — While NASCAR driver Michael McDowell was at the Richard Childress Racing shop recently, making preparations for an upcoming XFINITY Series start with the organization, McDowell’s wife was thousands of miles away.
When Jami McDowell returns next week, she will arrive with the newest member of the McDowell household, 3-year-old son Lucas.
“I wish I could be there,” Michael McDowell said. “I have obligations here and need to make sure I can provide for my family, too.”
The McDowells already have three children — Trace (pictured above in 2009), Emma and Rylie — but were first-time parents when they initially decided to go the adoption route.
“That was our plan,” McDowell said. “We were going to have one and then we were going to adopt one. We felt like with our lifestyle and travel and everything, two is manageable. But God had other plans, and while we were waiting we had two more, so now we’ll be at four. And four is not manageable on the road and all those things. But at the same time, I’m very thankful to be in this sport and have the opportunities that I have.
“My wife does a great job of caring for our children when I’m out racing around, and I work really hard to be there and be available during the week when I’m not at the shop and not taking care of my (racing) obligations.
“It’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be a challenge. We knew that and were aware of that, but at the same time, it’s going to be worth it.”
McDowell currently splits driving duties in the No. 95 Chevrolet fielded by Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR). The single-team organization has an alliance with RCR, and Ty Dillon is the driver when McDowell isn’t in the car.
Dillon, who also competes full time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for RCR, has five Sprint Cup starts this season with a top finish of 15th in the No. 95 entry. McDowell has 13 starts, including a season-best 10th earlier this month at Daytona International Speedway. The CSLFR organization fielded two entries for the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
The family’s faith started the McDowells down the road to adoption. And while it has taken longer than expected — six years — that faith never wavered. Even as their family continued to grow.
“It was just something that we felt like that God really led us to this opportunity,” the 31-year-old McDowell said. “There are over 200 million orphans in the world. You can’t save them all, you can’t fix everything. But we have a great home that we can save one.
“Our son Lucas, he’s 3 now, but he was left in the street at five days old because he has cleft hand and feet. Something here that would be very small, something that … you can operate and help them be able to walk and grab and do all the things that your other kids can do. But over there, it’s ‘Well, he’s not perfect. There’s something wrong with him.’
“We’re really thankful that we have the opportunity to do it and be a part of his life and him be a part of our lives. It’s going to be great for our kids. A crazy, cool opportunity.”