Since Iowa Speedway’s entrance into the NASCAR ranks in 2009, Pizza Ranch has established a track tradition of delivering a winning pizza to every driver who visits their signature “Pizza Ranch Victory Lane”. With Michael McDowell behind the wheel of the Pizza Ranch Toyota, the Iowa-based sponsor hopes that their special Victory Lane delivery goes to Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team next Saturday.
BACK IN THE SADDLE: McDowell will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota at Iowa Speedway for his fourth of five races with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012. McDowell is also slated to pilot the No. 18 Camry at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on August 18. In McDowell’s first three races in the Pizza Ranch car this season, he notched a third place finish at Iowa Speedway (May 20), a seventh place finish at Michigan International Speedway (June 16) and a runner-up finish at Road America (June 23).
LEADING THE WAY: Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team is the current leader in the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship point standings. So far this season, the No. 18 team has earned four wins, five second-place finishes, 12 top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes and three pole awards. The No. 18 team claimed the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship in 2009 and 2010, and they hope that with their continued success they’ll claim the honor again in 2012.
JOE GIBBS RACING AT IOWA SPEEDWAY: Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide Series program has 13 starts at Iowa Speedway with one win, three top-five finishes, seven top-10 finishes and one pole. JGR entries have led 368 laps of competition in only five events at Iowa Speedway. The organization has an average start of 8.1 and an average finish of 9.8 on the .875 mile Heartland oval.
FEATURED PIZZA RANCH LOCATION: The No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota will feature the Wadena, Minn. location for the August 4 Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway. The Pizza Ranch in Wadena, Minn. opened in June of 1988 and is owned by Darren and Kandi Kelderman. Wadena is located in the north-central part of Minnesota, 160 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Two representatives from the Wadena Pizza Ranch will get the opportunity to serve as honorary pit crew members on race day at Iowa Speedway. In addition to taking in the U.S. Cellular 250 from the No. 18 pit box, the representatives will also meet driver Michael McDowell and tour the Nationwide Series garage area and the Pizza Ranch transporter.
RACE INFO: The U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 4. Watch and listen live on ESPN2, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Michael McDowell on Iowa: “It’s been several weeks since I’ve been behind the wheel of the Pizza Ranch Camry, so I can’t wait to get to Iowa Speedway this week. I really feel like this is the one. We really need to get a win and what better place than at Pizza Ranch’s home race in Iowa. We have around 600 Pizza Ranch owners and employees to cheer us on at the track, so that would make a win even more special. We’ve been so close all year, and I want to close the deal and get to Pizza Ranch Victory lane this weekend.”
Crew chief Matt Lucas on Iowa: “We are really looking forward to going back to Iowa with Michael McDowell. We feel we have something to build on based on our third place finish in the first race there earlier in the season. Michael is more confident than he has ever been and so are we. We’ve learned a few things since our last race and will implement them in hopes of making the car faster than before. Pizza Ranch is on board again and we will do absolute best to put the 18 car into Pizza Ranch Victory Lane at Iowa.”