STATESVILLE, N.C. (May 22, 2018) – This Memorial Day weekend, Michael McDowell’s No. 34 Ford will honor the memory of a U.S. Marine Corps Gunner who lived in Mooresville, N.C., before being deployed to Iraq, where he was killed in action in 2007.
Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II was born and raised in Manteca, Calif., and enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school graduation. After serving for four years, he joined the civilian ranks and moved to Mooresville, N.C. – right in the heart of NASCAR country – where he met his wife, Tanya, and started a business called Crosslink Powder Coating. The company offered an alternative to liquid paint that was often used on race car parts.
Palmer decided to reenlist in 2005, just before his 35th birthday, so that he could once again serve his country. Assigned to the 8th Communication Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On May 5, 2007, Palmer was killed while acting as a Gunner on a Humvee that was struck by a roadside bomb.
Palmer’s name will be displayed on the windshield of McDowell’s No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will mark the Memorial Day weekend by paying tribute to military men and women who gave their lives for their country.
“It’s very impactful when you meet some of the moms and dads and brothers and sisters of a fallen soldier,” McDowell said. “You build a relationship with them. It’s not just a shake of the hand and ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice. You spend real time and get to know them, and it makes an impression and an impact.
“I’m looking forward to meeting Cpl. Palmer’s family and, as a team, showing them how grateful we are for his sacrifice and for their sacrifice.”
In addition to Palmer’s name on the windshield, the Dockside Logistics Ford will have patriotic accents added to its paint scheme for the Memorial Day weekend and NASCAR’s “600 Miles of Remembrance” tribute. The Coca-Cola 600 airs Sunday on FOX at 6 p.m. ET.
About Front Row Motorsports:
Front Row Motorsports is a winning organization in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the premier division of NASCAR competition. The team was founded in 2004 and is owned by Tennessean Bob Jenkins. FRM fields two full-time entries, the No. 34 of Michael McDowell and the No. 38 of David Ragan, from its Statesville, N.C., headquarters just outside of Charlotte. The team's partnership base includes organizations such as Ford Motor Company, Love's Travel Stops, K-LOVE Radio, 1000Bulbs.com and Shriners Hospitals for Children. Visit teamfrm.com and follow FRM on Twitter at @Team_FRM and on Facebook at facebook.com/FrontRowMotorsports.
Front Row Motorsports
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No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford
Started: 12th | Finished: 10th
"That was a handful. This rules package was a big question mark coming in, and I'm not sure we solved it. Our Dockside Logistics Ford wasn't getting around the track like we needed it to, and we never really had track position on our side either. But if NASCAR decides to do something with this package in the future, at least we've got a jumping-off point to start with."
McDowell on the All-Star Open"Trying to race your way into the All-Star race is always tough, but this year more than ever. There’s a new rule package for the All-Star race that’s significantly different than anything we’ve ever had at a mile-and-a-half. Obviously, speeds are going to be slower, a lot more downforce, a lot more drag. But it's still a big question mark. Nobody knows how it’s really going to play out. It’s going to be an exciting day and a half of figuring it all out and going racing. It’s cool for the All-Star format. It’s a good opportunity to mix things up.
"Nothing will transfer over to the Coke 600 the following week. You won’t be learning a lot. But who knows, we might wind up with this rule package somewhere else down the road. So, you definitely want to take it seriously and make sure that you maximize the opportunity. Everybody wants to be able to race for a million dollars, so there’s a lot on the line and three spots still available. You’ve got to fight hard for it."
McDowell All-Star Open Stats
Best finish: 11th
Saturday, May 19, 2:30pm - Monster Energy Open Autograph Session (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford
Started: 36th | Finished: 20th
"It’s good to get some points and get some momentum back. We just started out really loose and got behind a little bit and made good changes at the end, but by then we were two laps down and it’s just hard to make up. Everybody fought hard and it’s still good to get a top-20. I’m really happy for my teammate, David Ragan, with a top-15. That’s a great run for them, and they’ve been having a good streak."
McDowell on Kansas"Kansas Speedway has got some age on it and multiple lanes now, which is great. Last year, Kansas was my best mile-and-a-half result. So, I’m really looking forward to going back there in our Love's Travel Stops Ford.
"Kansas is important because we go there twice. Texas and Charlotte, too -- you go to those places twice. So, if you can get your package dialed in for those tracks, I feel like you can score a lot of points and get some good results on the board. And that’s really important for us."
McDowell Kansas Stats
13 starts, 1 top-15, 2 top-20s
Best finish: 13th
Saturday, May 12, 3:45pm - Kansas Speedway Ignition Garage (Kansas Speedway Infield)
No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford
Started: 29th | Finished: 22nd
"It was an OK day for our Dockside Logistics team. Our car had decent speed at times, but we got spun early in the race and got some damage, and we just never had track position working for us. So, we overcame a lot. I just wish a few other things had worked in our favor to get us into the top 20."
McDowell on Dover"It is intimidating. It’s one of the racetracks where, from a driver’s standpoint, your first lap on the track after you unload, it still takes your breath away. Not just that it’s so fast. You just drop into the holes, into the turns. It’s like a big Bristol. It’s super fast and high-commitment. The reason it’s the ‘Monster’ is that it eats cars. It’s very easy to get yourself in a mess there.
"The banking is so steep, when somebody wrecks, everything washes down to the bottom. Everybody winds up sliding into the same spot. We’ve had some really big wrecks there where you get half the field because there’s just nowhere to go. It’s so narrow. It can be a handful.
"We'll have the Drive for Autism decal on our Dockside Logistics Ford this weekend. The track, Autism Delaware and Artie Kempner do a great job raising awareness and support for families affected by autism. I'll be headed up there a little early on Thursday for the Drive for Autism golf event. It's a little slower-paced day than at the racetrack, visiting with the kids and doing a little golfing. I'm looking forward to it."
McDowell Dover Stats
14 starts, 2 top-20s
Best finish: 19th
Sunday, May 6, 10:30am - Ford Performance display (Dover International Speedway Fan Zone)
No. 34 Love's Travel Stops/Roller Bites Ford
Started: 20th | Finished: 32nd (accident)
"All I saw was smoke, unfortunately. We were just in the wrong lane at the wrong time. We had a really fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford. Unfortunately that happens here at Talladega, and it always feels like it is 20 to go when we crash. I am not sure how to get to the end of these. It has been a rough last few years."
McDowell on Talladega"Talladega is a race that we circle. David Ragan won there with Front Row Motorsports a few years back, with David Gilliland pushing. So, there’s a lot of pressure going to Talladega. I would love to tell you that that’s a great racetrack for me. But, for whatever reason, I miss all the wrecks at Daytona and I’m in every single one at Talladega. I’m hoping to break that streak because the last few years have been rough there. There’s great opportunity to be up front and steal some stage points, maybe put yourself in position to win a race and get a playoff spot for our Love's Travel Stops team.
"As far as working with a teammate, at Talladega you can be a little more strategic. At Daytona it’s harder because there we were three-wide for a long time, and the leaders were moving lanes. You’re so stacked up, it’s hard to get out of a lane and get into another one. But at Talladega, you can still work your way to the top, get hooked up with a few people, get coordinated. It just feels like you have a little bit more space and a little bit more opportunity to get organized."
McDowell Talladega Stats
14 starts, 1 top-15, 2 top-20s
Best finish: 15th
No. 34 K-LOVE Radio Ford
Started: 24th | Finished: 31st
"It seemed like we were fighting a bunch of obstacles this evening. We got a pass-through penalty early in the race under green, and we wound up trying to dig ourselves out of that hole the rest of the night. We tried a different pit strategy hoping that would help us out, and it didn’t work as we’d hoped. And all the while we kept working on our car’s handling. We’d hoped for a better finish for our K-LOVE team."
Team FRM PR