No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota News and Notes:
PIZZA RANCH TEAM EYEING VICTORY LANE: 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 on Sunday.
PIZZA RANCH ON BOARD WITH MCDOWELL: This weekend’s Nationwide Series event is one of four races where McDowell will be at the helm of the No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota. McDowell is also slated to pilot the Pizza Ranch Camry at Michigan International Raceway, Road America and in Iowa Speedway’s August event with crew chief Matt Lucas calling the shots. In conjunction with his first race of the year with Pizza Ranch, McDowell is re-launching his personal website this week. To see the new and improved site, please visit www.mmcdowell.com.
ON THE HUNT FOR THE OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP: JGR’s No. 18 team was third in the Nationwide Series owner’s point standings heading into Darlington, but their runner-up finish at the Lady in Black moved them into the second place seat. Now just seven points separate them from the lead. The No. 18 team clinched 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 10 starts at Iowa Speedway with one win, two top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes and one pole. JGR entries have led 368 laps of competition in only four events at Iowa Speedway. The organization has an average start of 8.6 and an average finish of 10.5 on the .875 mile Heartland oval.
FEATURED PIZZA RANCH LOCATION: The No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota will feature the Le Mars, Iowa Pizza Ranch location on the rear quarter panel this weekend at Iowa Speedway. The restaurant is owned by Brad Cleveringa and Tyler Sickles and was opened in 1995. It is located in downtown Le Mars just off of Iowa Highway 3. Two guests of the Le Mars Pizza Ranch location will get the honor of spending race day with the No. 18 team and serving as honorary pit crew members on Sunday.
RACE INFO: The Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway kicks off at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.
McDowell’s Career NASCAR Nationwide Series Stats:
Top 5: 1
Top 10: 10
Laps Led: 74
Avg. Start: 24.1
Avg. Finish: 22.8
McDowell’s Career NASCAR Nationwide Series Stats at Iowa Speedway:
Top 5: 0
Top 10: 3
Laps Led: 36
Avg. Start: 11.5
Avg. Finish: 9.3
From the Cockpit:
Michael McDowell: “I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota. We were so close last year to a win, and I really feel like we will break through this season and get that victory for Pizza Ranch. Matt Lucas and the boys have been awesome this season. I would love to get Matt his first victory as a Nationwide Series crew chief. I know we will have tons of support from the folks at Pizza Ranch with the race being right in their backyard. I’ve dreamed about pulling the Pizza Ranch car into Pizza Ranch Victory Lane at Iowa Speedway, and nothing would be better than making that dream come true this weekend.”
From the Pit Box:
Matt Lucas: “We’re really looking forward to going back to Iowa having Michael McDowell in the car with Pizza Ranch on board. We had decent top-10 runs in both races at Iowa last year with Michael and we’re hoping to improve on those and get the No. 18 Pizza Ranch car into Victory Lane. In our first race last year we started second and finished seventh and in the second race we started ninth and finished ninth. Michael is a great driver and I think with last year under his belt, he has an even better expectation for this weekend’s race. We’re really looking to hit the ground running.”
No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota / Joe Gibbs Racing Team:
Driver - Michael McDowell
Crew Chief - Matt Lucas
Car Chief - Charlie Brock
Race Engineer - Josh Noll
Shock Specialist - Brad Rothlin
Mechanic - Todd Brewer
Mechanic - Eddie D’Hondt Jr.
Tire Specialist - Matt Sauer
Setup Specialist - Kevin Kelley
Engine Tuner - Roger Purcell
Truck Driver – Bennie Stevens Jr.
Spotter - Chris Monez
Jackman - Jason Tate
Gasman - John Eicher
Front Tire Changer - John Royer
Front Tire Carrier - Bryce Hildebrand
Rear Tire Changer - Chris Taylor
Rear Tire Carrier - Eric Groen
About Pizza Ranch:
Pizza Ranch’s vision is “To glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in”. Founded in Hull, Iowa, in 1981 by Adrie Groeneweg, Pizza Ranch is a prominent regional restaurant chain that offers a wide selection of pizza, salad, chicken with hot mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, potato wedges and desserts in a unique buffet-style environment. The brand’s great tasting food is also available through carry-out and delivery service. Currently, the company boasts more than 160 locations throughout nine states in the Midwest and is currently executing an aggressive growth plan to more than double its presence in key U.S. markets. In 2012, Pizza Ranch was included in Entrepreneur magazine’s “Franchise 500” list. For more information about Pizza Ranch and available franchise opportunities, visit www.pizzaranchfranchise.com.