Michael McDowell (Photo Credit:  Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Michael McDowell (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Michael McDowell has been signed to drive the #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford in 2012, which merged with Whitney Motorsports during the off-season.  Predominantly a start-and-park team in 2011, PPR have acquired sponsorship from Curb records to run full time in 2012, and are optimistic that with the returning McDowell, 27, they can crack the top 35 in owner's points.

“Combining our efforts with Whitney Motorsports with the support of Mike Curb and having Michael behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford means we'll open the season at Daytona better prepared than ever before,” Parsons said.

“We feel the timing couldn't be better for us to build this program into a proper Sprint Cup Series effort.”

McDowell, a single-seater convert who won the 2004 Star Mazda championship and made two appearances in Champ Car the following year, saw his stock rise substantially last season after a dominant performance for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series race at Road America, where he took Pole and lead most of the way before being caught out on a late restart. 

This earned him the call-up to Gibbs' #18 Cup team when Kyle Busch was parked at Texas, although it was to prove a frustrating experience; having to start from the back and with few caution periods to make setup tweaks.  Nevertheless, McDowell made a strong impression in unfamiliar equipment, and will only improve with more regular opportunities.

This opportunity will allow me to expand my brand and put me in a position to work with the types of companies I've been wanting to work with for a long time,” McDowell said.

On the racetrack, I'm excited about the chance to have my best NASCAR season ever.”