LEE WHITE, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) How would you rate this first Daytona test session from Toyota's perspective? "Overall, we're happy with how things went here the past three days. I ...
LEE WHITE, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development)
How would you rate this first Daytona test session from Toyota's perspective? "Overall, we're happy with how things went here the past three days. I think all of the Toyota teams participating in this session were relatively pleased with the performance of their cars. From TRD's perspective, we were able to do quite a few technical things that will better prepare everyone for next week -- when the other half of the Toyota teams and cars test -- and certainly for when we come back next month for the 50th Daytona 500."
"In this form of racing, experience is the key. A year ago at this time, we came to the Daytona pre-season tests with two brand new Cup Series teams -- Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull -- and Bill Davis Racing, who was adding a second full-time car. We had new people in a new environment, unveiling an entirely new engine. Undoubtedly, coming back here with a year under our belts, with the addition of Joe Gibbs Racing, and with the three teams we were associated with in 2007 having more experience -- an improvement over last year's Daytona test was to be expected. Obviously, the addition of JGR will be a benefit to our entire NASCAR program and to TRD."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How was this Daytona test session for your team? "It was long, but a very productive three days. The cars were pretty quick and we made some good changes. Not many of our changes slowed us down -- they made us a little quicker every time. I'm pretty pleased with the test session."
How beneficial will it be for you to have your teammates apply your data to the test next week? "I think we'll definitely be better when we get back here for the race. We have three days of testing with our two other cars down here. They will take what we learned, apply it, and try other stuff as well. That's the advantage of having a multi-car team. We'll hopefully use it to our advantage and make even more gains when we come back for the race to get that much better."
Are you happy with how the three-day Daytona test? "I'm just happy with the whole team's performance. Everybody back at the Red Bull shop worked so hard to get us prepared to come test down here, and all the guys here that put a lot of effort into these three days. I don't think anybody has shown their best hand. Everybody is going to come back with a little bit more, but so are we. Toyota has shown us that they stepped up their program. We just need to go back to the shop and not let up at all. We're pretty good, but we have to get better."
What has made your team better from a year ago to now? "Toyota is getting better, the team has a year of experience, and I'm getting more comfortable in the car. I got to get back into the draft these past couple days, and that was fun. Everything was good."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Are you surprised with how fast the Toyotas have been during this three-day test? "Not, not at all. We knew that the switch was going to be good, and the reason we went to Toyota was for the pure fact that they want to go out there and compete and win races and win championships, so that's what we're here to do with them. The biggest thing was that it was nice to see the Red Bull stuff up there and Bill Davis' stuff going fast. I'm not necessarily sure if it's a lot to do with their engines or just the way that the Camry's front end is shaped or what exactly it is. For what we've got going on with our program and the Gibbs stuff, we're proud of the way we came out of the box strong."
Do you plan on sharing the data you have gathered with your teammates? "All of the information has already been discussed. All the guys back at the shop have been looking at it. There have been phone calls back and forth about them already changing some of the stuff on their cars from what we've learned here. So they've been doing a lot of stuff back there. A lot of the engine stuff that we've been learning here has been getting translated back there. They've been running it on the engine dyno -- it's been non-stop. Joe Gibbs Racing has been working 24/7. It's been a big deal to be able to come out here and run strong. We want to make sure we give the 20 (Tony Stewart) and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) everything that we've learned so they come here the way we leave so they can keep going on the same path that we were."
Are there any major differences between the two manufacturers you've worked with in the Cup Series? "For the restrictor plate stuff with the COT, we only ran it at Talladega last year, and Talladega is completely different than Daytona as far as how the cars handle. The car is a little bit rough through the bumps and seems to bounce, and doesn't seem to be on the racetrack as well as it needs to be. I think that's just a product of the car itself, not necessarily the manufacturer. The motor stuff seems to be strong. We've learned some things. We've picked up some things in our single-car runs by messing around with some motor stuff. We've also been messing around a little bit with it in the draft and seeing what kind of carburetors or air boxes or stuff like that that the Camrys like to have because we're not familiar with it. You get all that data, take it back to the shop and learn all about it."
How will having a new crew chief this year affect your race decisions? It's not necessarily during the race that it's going to affect us. It's more so with practice. When you first unload at the race track, you get the car accustomed to the track and you have yourself getting accustomed to the track with the car. That's the biggest part of it. By the time you get through practice, qualifying and 'happy hour,' you better be ready to go race. The biggest part is just showing up to the race track for the first time. Luckily, we get a test at Las Vegas and California. Those are going to be two pretty big tests with the mile-and-a-half stuff, since teams have not been on the mile-and-a-half tracks as much with this car. I think it's just going to be a learning experience for all of us, to figure out what we need to know about these cars on the different race tracks. But, we went to Dover last year without a test and everything seemed to go well there. Being here at Daytona, then the Las Vegas and the California tests, that will be a lot of it, just trying to get everything squared away and get a baseline."
Is it a stretch to say that Toyota will get its first Cup Series victory in 2008? I'm not necessarily going to say that it's the team or myself. I'm confident enough in Toyota, because we're talking about Toyota here, that they're going to make it to Victory Lane. I feel like the Gibbs organization is ultimately going to be the telltale story of how good Toyota is going to be. You still have Red Bull, who has been a strong effort. Obviously, they came down here prepared and ready to go. They've been pretty fast, as well as Bill Davis, the 27 with (Jacques) Villeneuve has been good. There's going to be a couple more down here next week. I'll be curious to see how the rest of them do. It's not a stretch at all to say that Toyota's going to be in Victory Lane."
-credit: toyota motorsports