Daytona Preseason Thunder - Toyota afternoon notes 2008-01-15

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Test Session 2 - Day 2 PM Daytona International Speedway January 15, 2008 LEE WHITE, Senior Vice President and General Manager TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) What can you attribute to the grouping of ...

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Test
Session 2 - Day 2 PM
Daytona International Speedway
January 15, 2008

LEE WHITE, Senior Vice President and General Manager TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development)

What can you attribute to the grouping of Toyotas at the top of the charts here in testing? "We saw Talladega as an opportunity. We started working on Talladega with a group of focused engineers in June, and that race was in October. We saw that there was no point in further investment in that style of restrictor-plate engine, because it was going away. We saw it as an opportunity to focus on a new package for that race. That is why that group of engineers focused on this package six months before Talladega. That explains the gap, I think. It was six months of hard work and effort focusing on one race. It wasn't about Talladega. It was about the Daytona 500."

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MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Have you been surprised by the strengths the Toyotas have shown? "I knew we would be really, really good because we knew what we had at Talladega in October and we got the pole there -- that pole probably needed an asterisk by it considering it was an impound race and some of the good cars didn't worry as much about qualifying. In fact one of the bus drivers looked up at the board after qualifying and said it looked like they were lining up for the B-main because all the numbers up there were funny looking. But we know how much power we had then and we know what kind of aero we had then -- we came here with a little bit more of each and I'm not surprised at all."

Do you expect to see just as many Toyotas up front when we return for the race? "It is skewed a little bit with the number of Toyotas that are up front this week, but I'm sure when we come back there will be a pretty good balance up front. A year ago Dale (Jarrett) and I were at the bottom of the sheet and we knew we had our work cut out for us and we knew we had our work cut out for us to even be competitive. But I think what we know now is that we can be competitive and as a race car driver that is really all you hope for -- to have something you can race them with. I had a lot of fun in the draft today -- made about 20 or so laps in a row and the car was really good."

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DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

What would it mean to win the 50th running of the Daytona 500? "With this being my last Daytona 500, it would be perfect (to get the win) -- those are storybook endings and we know those don't happen a lot, but we're in a lot better position to even discuss something like that so that makes it a lot more fun."

What has changed in the times with the Toyotas from the single car runs to the drafting runs this afternoon? "As far as the drafting sessions go, when you get into that you can make those times look like whatever you want depending on where you want to get. If you want to get out of line and fall back about eight or ten car lengths and you have somebody to push you up, then you can make a big time out of that. But if you just want to get yourself in the middle of that pack and see what your car is going to do there then you're not going to see that big number or that good number to put you towards the top of the board. We were trying a number of things as far as race set-ups go and just trying to get the car to where I felt like I could keep it wide open for a lot of laps because every one of these that I have ever seen -- that's what wins them. The three that I won -- that is what won the race. It wasn't necessarily the best driver, it was the best car and I'm pretty sure that if you talked to every other driver that's won this race they would tell you the same thing. The Toyotas do have good speed. They've worked extremely hard on this program and when we were here last year we were just trying to throw everything together as quick as we possibly could just to be here. A year has gone by and a lot has happened in that amount of time to make us much better."

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TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

After all your experience does it get easier to handle the changes at this level, the changes of rules, equipment, engines? "I think everybody that gets to this level can handle it. I don't think it's a bigger deal having more experience. But this year it's not as big a change obviously. In the big picture it seems like a huge change because we switched manufacturers. But if we went ahead and made this change a year ago, it would have been a lot more dramatic than it is this year with the car that's the same for everybody."

Does the Toyota feel any different than the Chevrolet, or if you didn't know what car make you were in you wouldn't know that there was a change? "I wouldn't know the difference so far. It's hard to say. I mean, you've got to keep in mind, you're on a two-and-a-half-mile track and you're holding it wide open. You're not going to really feel it until you get around other cars. Any driver that says they can is a heck of a lot better driver than me because I can't tell the difference. I couldn't tell the difference when we went to Vegas. You're not going to know. You're not talking about 20-, 30-horsepower gains to where you're going to feel it. You're only talking five- to eight-horsepower difference, and you're not going to feel that. Any driver that says he can feel that on the racetrack is lying to you."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing