No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota News and Notes:
• ROAD AMERICA RECAP: Virtually untouchable in last year’s Road America race, Michael McDowell and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Pizza Ranch team are looking to claim the prize in this season’s event. McDowell and the No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota were the dominant driver and car at Road America in 2011, winning the pole and leading 30 of the 50 laps in the Bucyrus 200. Looking to cash in on his first career victory in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, McDowell was just laps away from the checkered flag before he hit fluid and ran off of the racetrack, forcing him to settle for a disappointing 12th place finish. On Saturday, McDowell returns to Road America to finish off what he started just one year ago.
• TWO DOWN, THREE TO GO: Saturday’s 50 lap road course race will be McDowell’s third of five races with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012. With the support of loyal sponsor, Pizza Ranch, McDowell has finished third and seventh respectively in his first two starts at Iowa Speedway (May 20) and Michigan International Speedway (June 16). In addition to this weekend’s event at Road America, look for McDowell behind the wheel of JGR’s No. 18 Toyota at Iowa Speedway on August 4 and at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on August 18.
• LEADER OF THE PACK: The No. 18 team’s back-to-back wins in the two most recent Nationwide Series events has further extended their lead in the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship point standings. The No. 18 team is now 47 points ahead of the second place No. 2 Richard Childress Racing team and 55 markers ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 team in third. Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team claimed the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship title in both 2009 and 2010.
• JOE GIBBS RACING AT ROAD AMERICA: Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide Series program has four starts with four different drivers at Road America. JGR Nationwide entries have one top-10, one pole and have led 42 laps on the 4.048 mile road course. With 13 of 33 races on the 2012 Nationwide Series schedule completed, Joe Gibbs Racing’s three-car team has five wins, 15 top-five finishes, 23 top-10 finishes and five poles.
• FEATURED PIZZA RANCH LOCATION: The No. 18 Toyota will feature the Roscoe, Illinois Pizza Ranch location this weekend for the Road America race. The restaurant is owned by Dan and Mary Moore and was opened in 2007. This restaurant is located a growing area of Roscoe, Illinois. The restaurant will have two individuals serving as honorary pit crew members on Saturday, as well as 10 additional guests from the Roscoe, Illinois Pizza Ranch location.
• RACE INFO: The Sargento 200 at Road America kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 23. Watch and listen live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio starting at 3 p.m. ET.
McDowell’s 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Season Stats:
Top 5: 1
Top 10: 2
Laps Led: 0
Avg. Start: 8.5
Avg. Finish: 5.0
McDowell’s Career NASCAR Nationwide Series Stats:
Top 5: 2
Top 10: 12
Laps Led: 74
Avg. Start: 23.7
Avg. Finish: 22.3
McDowell’s Career NASCAR Nationwide Series Stats at Road America:
Top 5: 0
Top 10: 0
Laps Led: 30
Avg. Start: 3.0
Avg. Finish: 22.5
From the Cockpit:
Michael McDowell: “I’m really pumped up about getting back to Road America this week. Going there is so nice and the race track there is awesome. I enjoy road racing so much because it’s my background. I grew up running different Formula cars there at Road America. We’re going to have a very competitive Pizza Ranch Camry. You’re also going up against guys like Jacques Villeneuve and Max Papis and a lot of great drivers that have a lot of road course experience as well. It’s going to be an exciting race – it always is. Last year, we had a dominant car and a dominant performance and we kind of gave one up. This year, we’re going back there knowing that we have an opportunity to win, but you also don’t know until you unload if the other teams have made gains or are closer now. I feel like last year we had a fairly significant margin on the rest of the field there. I’m imagining that gap is going to get smaller. We’re going to have to work hard – it's not a ‘gimmie’. It’s not easy, but it is exciting knowing we have one of the best shots at it.”
From the Pit Box:
Matt Lucas: “We’re really looking forward to going back to Road America with Michael. We’ve got a little bit of unfinished business to take care of. We will be trying to close the deal this year as we had a few issues on the green-white-checker finish last year. Had a fast Pizza Ranch car last year and sat on the pole and led quite a bit. Michael is an excellent road course driver and his entire attention will be on Road America as he is not going to Sonoma with his Cup team.”
“The entire team is geared up to put the best car on the track as we possibly can this weekend. Being from the Midwest, I like going back there, and Road America is certainly one of the nicest venues around. It’s a different type of racing than we normally do most of the year, but I really enjoy it. I started in road course racing, so I have a lot of good memories of it.”
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 Engine Tuner - Roger Purcel
Truck Driver - Bennie Stevens Jr. Spotter - Chris Monez Jackman - Trey Burklin
Gasman - Kenneth Purcell Front Tire Changer - Mark Armstrong
Front Tire Carrier - Bryce Hildebrand Rear Tire Changer - Kyle Symington Rear Tire Carrier - David O’Dell
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.