NNS: McDowell Making The Most of Limited Opportunity


NEWTON, Iowa — Michael McDowell piloted the No. 20 Pizza Ranch Toyota in Saturday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.  It was only his second time behind the wheel of a Nationwide Series car in 2014, with the other start also coming at Iowa in May.

Rolling off from the fifth position, McDowell ran inside the top-five throughout the majority of the race.  When an accident brought out the yellow flag for the final time on Lap 243 of the 250 lap event, McDowell had the chance to earn his first career Nationwide Series win.

McDowell took advantage and gained the lead on the Lap 247 restart, but was unable to hold off Brad Keselowski.  The former Michael Waltrip Racing driver took the checkered flag a mere 0.886 seconds behind Keselowski.

“I thought I almost had him (Keselowski) clear off of two and I went down into three and got just a little bit loose and he just rolled the middle on me. You could go back and play it over and over again, but no, I didn’t come off of two thinking that I was going to win this race,” McDowell said post-race.  “You never do, you just stay focused and in the zone.  You can’t put your guard down at all at any point.”

McDowell’s strong run at Iowa on Saturday night wasn’t rare, as he has seven top-10 finishes in eight Nationwide Series starts at the track, with six of those coming in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment.  What has been the key to his success at Iowa, dubbed “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet?”

“Probably the biggest thing is just jumping in a car that should run in the top-10 every time you get into it.  You have to make a pretty big mistake not to.”

“But this is one of my favorite tracks.  I think the reason I’ve had good success here is I ran ARCA races before Nationwide ever came here.”

McDowell was good in those events too, finishing fourth in 2006 and second in 2007.

“So that’s probably a little bit of it too, just having a little bit of extra seat time here prior to all the NASCAR teams getting here.  But lately just good race cars.”

McDowell was very thankful for the opportunity, and hopefully yet another strong performance will lead to future opportunites.

“Pizza Ranch had their opportunity to put anybody in the car they wanted to this year, so the fact that I got to drive is really cool.”

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About Brian Eberly

Brian Eberly (@beberly18) is a Certified Public Accountant and Manager of Field Accounting at a transportation company, but when he isn’t at the office you can most likely find him at a racetrack, watching a race on television, or following the action on social media. Eberly became interested in NASCAR in the nineties when Jeff Gordon was dominating the scene, and became hooked when he attended his first race with his dad in 1999 at Michigan International Speedway. Eberly has been writing about NASCAR since 2012 for various websites. An Illinois native and Northern Illinois University graduate, Eberly travels throughout the Midwest covering racing events in multiple series. When not following racing, he can be found on the golf course (usually trying to find his golf ball) and following the Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, Bulls, and of course the NIU Huskies.

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