Michael McDowell (left), with former boss Michael Waltrip.

Remembering Michael McDowell’s terrible crash at Texas in 2008: He walked away with a wave to the crowd (VIDEOS)

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Friday was an anniversary NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Michael McDowell would rather not want to be reminded of, but also one he’ll definitely never forget.

It was six years ago, April 4, 2008, when McDowell, attempting to make only his second Sprint Cup race, was taking a qualifying lap around Texas Motor Speedway.

Everything was going fine until McDowell got loose coming out of turn 1. Just seconds after saying over the team radio that his car was “way too tight,” McDowell lost control of the car and it turned right and head-on into the wall at about 170 mph.

But that was just the beginning of the wildest ride of McDowell’s career. His car then began flipping – an estimated 12 times – before coming to rest in a crumpled heap.

Fortunately, McDowell, who was driving for Michael Waltrip Racing, was able to get out of the car under his own power and walked to the ambulance – albeit a bit woozy as you can tell from the video below. He even waved to the fans after climbing out of his car.

Thankfully, McDowell was uninjured. Clips of McDowell’s wreck were broadcast around the world, and the severity of it, not to mention that he walked away, was a testament to the safety elements NASCAR had installed in both the Car of Tomorrow as well as the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers that unquestionably saved McDowell’s life.

“I feel great, nothing broke,” McDowell said afterward, although he admitted he had a “few little bumps and bruises.”

“I didn’t lose consciousness,” McDowell said. “I felt every roll down the hill.”

The deeply religious McDowell added later, “For me to walk away from that wreck is unbelievable. I’m going to count my blessings tonight and thank God for this opportunity to walk away from that wreck.”

In an ironic twist of fate, the horrific wreck was actually one of the most noteworthy things to happen to McDowell’s career at the time.

He was a rookie Sprint Cup driver and wound up taking a kind of victory tour to a number of media outlets nationwide, including The Ellen Show (second video below), where the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Check out Ellen’s and Michael’s question and answer exchange (about 1:30 into the clip):

Ellen: “You just all of a sudden lost control. What was happening?”

McDowell: “Well, we were in qualifying and the car before me had went out and actually blew an engine, so there was some oil out on the track and I just happened to hit it and lost control and …”

Ellen: “Did you see yourself going into that wall when that happened?”

McDowell: “Oh, I was there the whole time.”

Ellen: “Did you talk to yourself, going, ‘Oh, oh?'”

McDowell: “The first thing I did, was (I said), ‘Oh, oh, this is really going to hurt.’ The second thing was ‘My bosses are definitely not going to be happy with me.'”

McDowell’s wreck remains one of the worst the sport has ever seen. But at the same time, it was one of the best examples of how well NASCAR’s safety initiatives work – and continue to work to this day.

The sport has not lost a driver to death on the racetrack since the late Dale Earnhardt crashed on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Petrucci set for MotoGP return at Le Mans

PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: Danilo Petrucci of Italy and Octo Pramac Racing rounds the bend during the 2016 MotoGP Test Day at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on February 18, 2016 in Phillip Island, Australia.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Danilo Petrucci will make his comeback from injury at this weekend’s MotoGP race in Le Mans after missing the first four races of the season.

Petrucci underwent surgery on his right hand due to a recurring problem that meant he could not race in Qatar, Argentina, Austin or Spain for the Pramac team.

The Italian’s place was taken by Michele Pirro for the last three races, but Petrucci is now fit again and will race at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend.

“I trained a lot in the last few weeks. This time I did things more calmly, waiting for my body to give me permission to train,” Petrucci said.

“I’m happy to be back and I feel good. Of course we must see the reaction to the first impact with the track as the intense workout made at home certainly cannot be compared to a race weekend. But I’m very confident.

“I want to thank all the people who helped me, my trainer Marco Baglioni, Tommaso, Filippo, and my brother Francesco who have trained with me, pushing me every day.

“I also want to thank the Medical Team of Terni who provided me with all the tools for physiotherapy and Dr. Tarallo, from the team of prof. Catani, who operated me.

“Then a big thank to all my fans for their support. I can’t wait to be at Le Mans and I hope I can soon give to all of them so much satisfaction.”

The French Grand Prix takes place on Sunday May 8.

Magnussen named Driver of the Day for Russian GP

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Renault Sport Formula One Team Renault RS16 Renault RE16 turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Kevin Magnussen has won Formula 1’s official Driver of the Day poll for the Russian Grand Prix.

Magnussen started 17th in Sochi after a difficult qualifying session, but made the most of the trouble at the first corner for many of the cars ahead to work his way into the top 10.

The Dane’s pace was impressive during the second half of the race to ensure he finished the race seventh, marking Renault’s first points as an F1 constructor since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The result was also Magnussen’s first top 10 finish in F1 since the penultimate race of the 2014 season when he raced for McLaren.

On Monday, the official F1 Twitter account confirmed that Magnussen had won the vote through its website.

Kvyat, Gutierrez, Sainz handed penalty points after Russian GP

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico driving the (21) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo and Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo collide at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a busy race for the FIA stewards as a number of incidents resulted in three drivers receiving penalty points on their super licences.

Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez and Carlos Sainz Jr. were all sanctioned by the stewards for actions during the race.

Kvyat’s antics on the first lap defined a number of drivers’ races as he hit Sebastian Vettel twice in a matter of seconds, the second hit punting the Ferrari racer into the wall and out of contention.

Kvyat said after the race that it was easy to attack him, but the rest of the paddock was less than impressed, leaving many expecting an apology from the Russian.

After being handed a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race, Kvyat was also given three points on his FIA super licence, taking his tally up to five for the 12-month period.

Gutierrez was also penalized for an incident on the first lap after he took out Nico Hulkenberg and sparked a multi-car melee at Turn 2. He too received a time penalty during the race, but was handed two penalty points afterwards by the stewards.

Finally, Sainz was found to have forced Jolyon Palmer off track between Turns 2 and 3 during the race. He had 10 seconds added to his race time and also received two penalty points.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates his win on the podium next to Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari  during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg saw his Formula 1 championship lead swell to 43 points on Sunday after winning the Russian Grand Prix, marking his seventh straight victory.

The German has not lost since the Mexican Grand Prix back in November, and will head to the start of the European season in Spain later this month full of confidence.

It proved to be a race full of intriguing storylines as Lewis Hamilton fought back from 10th on the grid to finish second, Romain Grosjean took Haas back into the points and everyone got angry with Daniil Kvyat for causing mayhem at Turn 2.

Following the race on Sunday, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you all of the latest news, interviews and insight in Paddock Pass.