If Michael McDowell wins the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title in NASCAR's Nationwide Series this season, the award will come by one of the most convoluted routes imaginable.

McDowell currently is third in the rookie standings behind leader Justin Allgaier. Where Allgaier has enjoyed the luxury of a solid, yearlong ride in the #12 Penske Racing Dodge, McDowell has cobbled together his run for the title in three cars.

McDowell started the season in the #47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Toyota but was out of the ride after 17 races when funding ran out. He competed in three events in Randy MacDonald's #81 Dodge before switching again.

In Saturday's Carfax 250 at Michigan International Speedway, McDowell finished 17th in his third race in Dusty Whitney's #26 Dodge. That result, which left McDowell tenth in the Nationwide standings overall, followed an eighth-place finish Aug. 1 at Iowa and a 27th-place result Aug. 8 at Watkins Glen.

McDowell took over the #26 ride after Brian Keselowski bowed out and became crew chief for the car.

"Yeah, it's kind of crazy how this sport works," McDowell said. "We had been driving the #81 for Randy MacDonald and had an opportunity to drive the #26 for Dusty Whitney and Brian Keselowski. Went to Iowa and got to do a test day, which really helped, you know, first time going to the track.

"We were in the top 15 most of the day, and then at the end there when it counted, we were able to get a bunch of spots and come home with a top-ten finish. ...This is a team that works out of a small garage here in Michigan and basically not a lot of sponsors -- just racing off of the purse -- and to go run top ten against all of the big Cup teams was pretty good."

McDowell says his future as a driver is week to week, but he hopes to land a ride that will allow him to test his mettle against top contenders such as Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.

"Obviously, I want to be in a car that can win the race, and I don't feel like I've been in that situation yet, and I want to get to that situation so I can see," McDowell said. "I want to see if I have what Kyle and Carl have."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News