TOYOTA NASCAR Notes & Quotes Week of March 19, 2007 CAR OF TOMORROW TODAY: NASCAR's 'Car of Tomorrow' (COT) makes its debut this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway presenting a unique challenge to every team competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup ...
TOYOTA NASCAR Notes & Quotes Week of March 19, 2007
CAR OF TOMORROW TODAY: NASCAR's 'Car of Tomorrow' (COT) makes its debut this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway presenting a unique challenge to every team competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The car, which will run in 16 of 36 races this year, features a front splitter and rear wing -- and is designed to cut costs and enhance on-track competition. Development of the COT has created an additional challenge for Toyota teams this season. The three Toyota teams -- Bill Davis Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull -- took part in a NASCAR test for the car at Bristol Feb. 28 & March 1, as well as a team test at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham to prepare for the COT's debut.
NEW TO TOYOTA TOO: Joining the NEXTEL Cup Series has been a tremendous undertaking for Toyota and when you throw in the debut of the COT, the work seemingly doubles. Jim Aust, President and CEO of TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) is eager and up to the challenge.
"When we made the announcement in January of 2006 that we were coming into the series, we had a year to Daytona and those days clicked off really fast," says Aust. "The same thing happened with the Car of Tomorrow. We certainly could have used more time I think to prepare for the (COT), but wWe've had a couple of tests, but and we feel that we could certainly use more."
COT THOUGHTS FROM DJ: Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry and a NASCAR veteran, has seen race cars evolve throughout his career, and believes the Car of Tomorrow is no different. "It's just a race car," says Jarrett. "You have to find what makes each particular kind work. You're never happy with them until you find that, no matter what type of car it is. Whether it's a speedway, a short track car or the Car of Tomorrow -- you're just not happy with them until you get them to work."
NEW FOR CREW: As tough as it will be for the drivers to adapt to the new race car, much of the onus lies with the crew chief and teams, who will be responsible for the set-up and handling of the COT. Doug Richert, crew chief for Brian Vickers and the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, sees his COT program developing.
"We had a few issues when we tested (at Bristol) a few weeks ago, but hopefully, we've ironed most of them out," says Richert. "It's just how fast we can get to where a few of the teamssimple fact that they've had cars for awhile. We'll work as hard as we can, though."
DJ KNOWS: Dale Jarrett has the most experience and the most success among Toyota drivers at the half- mile Bristol bullring. The 1999 NASCAR Cup champion owns one victory (August, 1997) and, 19 top-10 finishes in 41 career Cup starts at Bristol, and has led a total of 544 laps. Jarrett also scored a Busch Series win in (August, 1991) at Bristol.
BRISTOL BABIES: Although David Reutimann will make his NEXTEL Cup Series debut at Bristol in the Food City 500, he is no stranger to the track. Reutimann has one pole (August 2005) and one top-10 finish (August 2006) in a Toyota Tundra in three NCTS starts at Bristol, and finished ninth in his only Busch Series start at Bristol last August. AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry, is also making his series debut at Bristol this weekend. Unlike Reutimann, Allmendinger had never seen the track until a test session earlier this year.
LEADING LAPS: Brian Vickers led the first laps for Toyota in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway, leading twice for a total of five laps in his Team Red Bull Camry. Dave Blaney also led one lap at Atlanta in the No. 22 Caterpillar Camry for Bill Davis Racing. Additionally, Blaney also led one lap in the Busch Series race at Atlanta and led 16 laps from the pole position in the Busch race at California Speedway.
BLANEY'S BUSCH SUCCESS: Toyota driver Dave Blaney has enjoyed great success through the first five races of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series season. The Hartford, Ohio-native followed up a second- place finish in the season-opener at Daytona by scoring Toyota's first NASCAR pole position at California Speedway (finishing 10th) and a 13th-place run in his first trip to the Mexico City road course. Blaney suffered bad luck at Las Vegas by getting caught up in an on-track incident, but rebounded to finish 16th at Atlanta. Heading into this weekend at Bristol, Blaney sits third in the NBS point standings.
TUNDRA TIME: Toyota Tundras have won the first three races of the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. It is the fifth streak of three or more consecutive races won by a Tundra since its series debut in 2004, and marks the first time a manufacturer has won the first three races of a NCTS season since 2001. Jack Sprague was victorious in the season-opening race at Daytona in the No. 60 Con-way Freight Tundra, while Mike Skinner has won the past two races in his No. 5 Toyota Tundra -- at California Speedway, February 23, and Atlanta Motor Speedway March 16.
MIKED UP: Tundra driver Mike Skinner was the first NCTS NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion in 1995. If his early season success in 2007 continues throughout the year, the Daytona Beach, Fla. driver may capture his second NCTS title. Through three races, Skinner has logged two wins (California and Atlanta) and a fourth-place finish (Daytona), and currently sits atop the NCTS point standings. He holds a 69-point lead over fellow Tundra driver and defending series champion Todd Bodine from Germain Racinge.
MORE MIKE: Although the NCTS enjoys time off during the Bristol race weekend, the half-mile Tennessee oval holds a special place in the heart of Mike Skinner and the history of the Toyota Tundra. Skinner won his first NCTS in a Tundra in August 2005 when he led 190 laps of the 200-lap event. Chad Chaffin led the other 10 laps of the race in a Wyler Racing Tundra, marking the first time a Toyota has led every lap of a NASCAR race en route to victory lane.
CAMRYS IN COMPETITION: Bristol Motor Speedway isn't the only track where Toyota Camrys will be competing this weekend. Bill Davis Racing will field the No. 02 Camry in the ARCA race at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., on March 24 for Bobby Santos III. Santos drove for BDR at Iowa Speedway last October, qualifying 10th and finishing sixth. Gene NMead, who was the crew chief for Tundra driver Ted Musgrave during his Truck Series championship season in 2005, will be Santos' crew chief. The race Construct Corps-Palm Beach Grading 250 will take the green flag at 7:30 PM (ET).
ANOTHER BODINE: Bodine Aluminum, Inc., a St. Louis-based manufacturing company established as a Toyota company in 1990, has a 200-acre plant in Jackson, Tenn., producing cylinder heads, engine brackets, cylinder blocks, intake manifolds, lower cases and carrier covers for a variety of Toyota street vehicles. Not to be confused with defending NCTS champion and Tundra driver Todd Bodine, the Bodine Aluminum plant in Tennessee - which opened in 2005 - is approximately 400 miles from Bristol and is the lone Toyota production facility in the 'Volunteer State.' Bodine Aluminum employs nearly 980 people.
HAPPY 50TH: Toyota is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the U.S. in 2007. Toyota and its dealers employ about 150,000 workers in the U.S. Toyota operates 10 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and builds approximately half the vehicles it sells here.
-credit: toyota motorsports