NASCAR notes: McDowell switches teams, Schrader to retire from Cup

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Two quick NASCAR notes after this weekend’s race in Martinsville:

  • Michael McDowell, a NASCAR journeyman who’s raced with high profile Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing before, will leave his current No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford at year’s end for a lateral move to the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford in 2014. It’s a one-year deal but it provides the fledgling team a bit of stability after Scott Speed and the team parted ways earlier this year. McDowell, 28, has a season and career-best finish of ninth at this year’s Daytona 500. The PPR team rarely runs a whole race and besides the four restrictor plate events, McDowell’s only other race finishes this year were 32nd at Indianapolis and 26th yesterday in Martinsville.
  • While McDowell moves on, Ken Schrader told ESPN’s Allen Bestwick during yesterday’s broadcast that this year’s season finale at Homestead will be his last race in a Sprint Cup car. Schrader’s the epitome of a “wheel man” with more than 760 career Cup starts dating to 1984, and thousands more on short tracks and dirt tracks throughout the country on a weekly basis. He has run part-time in Cup since 2007 and has a best finish of 27th at the fall Bristol race this year driving Frank Stoddard’s No. 32 U.S. Chrome Ford. Assuming that is his last Cup start – it’s hard to think of the words “Schrader” and “retire” in the same sentence – a proper appreciation post of his career will follow at that point.

With tree in tow, Robert Wickens is already in the Christmas spirit

Robert Wickens' official Twitter page
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It may be a week before Thanksgiving, but IndyCar driver Robert Wickens is already obviously in a festive Christmas mood.

Wickens took to Twitter and Instagram Wednesday to post a video showing he just gave himself an early yuletide present: a Christmas tree:

“Got myself a tree! I figured it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit! It’s a very real tree and my arms are itchy to prove it!”

He even ended his tweet with a Christmas tree emoji.

And for good measure, Wickens — wearing a winter ski cap with his name on it — and some of the staff at his rehab facility broke into an impromptu version of “Oh, Christmas Tree!”

Check out what Wickens posted and enjoy a little early Christmas cheer sure to put a smile on your face: