Toyota Motorsports tidbits

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Toyota Motorsports press release

February 13 - 26, 2012

PACING THE FIELD: The reinvented 2012 Toyota Camry will serve as the 'official' pace car at the Daytona 500 for the first time. Toyota will showcase the new Camry -- the best-selling car in America 10 years running and 14 of the past 15 years -- as it leads the field to the green flag for the 'Great American Race.' The 2012 Camry, built in Georgetown, Ky., and Lafayette, Ind., features a bold, sophisticated new design with a more spacious interior and improved driving dynamics, as well as class leading safety, fuel economy and multi-media technology.

TRD TIME FOR TWO: This season, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) will continue to provide NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) engines to Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), and will also build engines for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). A total of six cars between the two teams will run TRD-built engines from Costa Mesa, Calif. Denny Hamlin used a TRD-built engine in his JGR No. 11 Camry for the second half of 2011 and Kyle Busch also used a TRD engine in the JGR No. 18 Toyota late last season. Joey Logano (JGR No. 20), Clint Bowyer (MWR No. 15) and Martin Truex Jr. (MWR No. 56), as well as Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip (MWR No. 55) will all run TRD-built engines this season.

MWR MOVING UP: MWR enters the 2012 season with greater goals and expectations after the addition of two new drivers -- Bowyer and Martin. Bowyer will make his team debut in the MWR No. 15 5-Hour Energy Camry at Daytona. The 33-year-old driver has earned five wins, 31 top-five results and 95 top-10 finishes in 217 career NSCS starts, and has made the 'Chase' playoff field three times (2007, 2008 and 2010). Bowyer has posted two top-five results and six top-10 finishes in 12 career NSCS starts at Daytona. Martin will pilot the MWR No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry for 25 Sprint Cup Series races in each of the next two seasons. This season is Martin's 30th year competing in the series, with the 53-year-old driver having earned 40 wins, 51 pole positions, 266 top-five results and 438 top-10 finishes in 830 career starts. Martin has yet to win a NSCS race at Daytona, but he did earn the pole position for the 2010 Daytona 500.

CREW CHIEF CHANGES: Toyota NSCS teams will have some new faces on top of the pit box beginning at Daytona. JGR added two new crew chiefs in Darian Grubb and Jason Ratcliff. Grubb, who was victorious in five of the 10 Chase races with Tony Stewart last season en route to winning the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, will serve as Hamlin's crew chief. Ratcliff, a part of two NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) owner's championships with the No. 18 Camry (2009 and 2010), will join the No. 20 NSCS team and driver Logano. MWR has hired Zephyrhills, Fla., native Brian Pattie to serve as crew chief for the No. 15 Camry driven by Bowyer, and JTG Daugherty Racing has named Todd Berrier as crew chief for the No. 47 Camry driven by Bobby Labonte.

BROTHERS REUNITED IN RACING: Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) will run a full-time entry this season in the NNS with Kyle teaming up with his brother, Kurt Busch, in the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry. Kyle will be behind the wheel for the first five races of 2012, before splitting the balance of the season with Kurt. In 222 NNS starts, Kyle is the series all-time wins leader with 51 career victories, 120 top-five results and 149 top-10 finishes. Kurt has recorded three wins and three poles in 12 career NNS starts.

NEW TUNDRA TEAM: ThorSport Racing joins the Tundra lineup in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) competition this season. ThorSport, the longest-tenured NCWTS team with entries in the series since 1996, will field three full- time Tundras in 2012 with Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and rookie Dakoda Armstrong. Sauter, who finished second in the 2011 NCWTS driver standings, will be behind the wheel of the No. 13 Tundra, Crafton will drive the No. 88 Tundra and Armstrong will debut in the No. 98 entry, running for Rookie of the Year honors.

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PACING THE FIELD: The reinvented 2012 Toyota Camry will serve as the 'official' pace car at the Daytona 500 for the first time. Toyota will showcase the new Camry -- the best-selling car in America 10 years running and 14 of the past 15 years -- as it leads the field to the green flag for the 'Great American Race.' The 2012 Camry, built in Georgetown, Ky., and Lafayette, Ind., features a bold, sophisticated new design with a more spacious interior and improved driving dynamics, as well as class leading safety, fuel economy and multi-media technology.

TRD TIME FOR TWO: This season, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) will continue to provide NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) engines to Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), and will also build engines for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). A total of six cars between the two teams will run TRD-built engines from Costa Mesa, Calif. Denny Hamlin used a TRD-built engine in his JGR No. 11 Camry for the second half of 2011 and Kyle Busch also used a TRD engine in the JGR No. 18 Toyota late last season. Joey Logano (JGR No. 20), Clint Bowyer (MWR No. 15) and Martin Truex Jr. (MWR No. 56), as well as Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip (MWR No. 55) will all run TRD-built engines this season.

MWR MOVING UP: MWR enters the 2012 season with greater goals and expectations after the addition of two new drivers -- Bowyer and Martin. Bowyer will make his team debut in the MWR No. 15 5-Hour Energy Camry at Daytona. The 33-year-old driver has earned five wins, 31 top-five results and 95 top-10 finishes in 217 career NSCS starts, and has made the 'Chase' playoff field three times (2007, 2008 and 2010). Bowyer has posted two top-five results and six top-10 finishes in 12 career NSCS starts at Daytona. Martin will pilot the MWR No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry for 25 Sprint Cup Series races in each of the next two seasons. This season is Martin's 30th year competing in the series, with the 53-year-old driver having earned 40 wins, 51 pole positions, 266 top-five results and 438 top-10 finishes in 830 career starts. Martin has yet to win a NSCS race at Daytona, but he did earn the pole position for the 2010 Daytona 500.

CREW CHIEF CHANGES: Toyota NSCS teams will have some new faces on top of the pit box beginning at Daytona. JGR added two new crew chiefs in Darian Grubb and Jason Ratcliff. Grubb, who was victorious in five of the 10 Chase races with Tony Stewart last season en route to winning the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, will serve as Hamlin's crew chief. Ratcliff, a part of two NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) owner's championships with the No. 18 Camry (2009 and 2010), will join the No. 20 NSCS team and driver Logano. MWR has hired Zephyrhills, Fla., native Brian Pattie to serve as crew chief for the No. 15 Camry driven by Bowyer, and JTG Daugherty Racing has named Todd Berrier as crew chief for the No. 47 Camry driven by Bobby Labonte.

BROTHERS REUNITED IN RACING: Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) will run a full-time entry this season in the NNS with Kyle teaming up with his brother, Kurt Busch, in the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry. Kyle will be behind the wheel for the first five races of 2012, before splitting the balance of the season with Kurt. In 222 NNS starts, Kyle is the series all-time wins leader with 51 career victories, 120 top-five results and 149 top-10 finishes. Kurt has recorded three wins and three poles in 12 career NNS starts.

***

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): One year ago, Toyota drivers combined for six victories, 39 top-five results, 78 top-10 finishes, seven poles and led 2,497 laps … The Camry has yet to cross the finish line first in the Daytona 500 … Toyota driver Kyle Busch won at Daytona in July 2008 and Denny Hamlin was victorious in the second Gatorade Duel 150 race in 2008 -- a non-points event Michael Waltrip will attempt to qualify for his 26th consecutive Daytona 500 … Waltrip won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and 2003 -- one of only eight drivers with multiple wins at Daytona … RAB Racing with Brack Maggard will attempt to make its NSCS debut at the Daytona 500 with NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) regular Kenny Wallace hoping to qualify for his 11th Daytona 500 start.

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Why are you so confident heading into the 2012 season? "I think we're going to be going to the race track with completely different race cars. I can't get a heck of a lot in depth with it, but just some of the things that we're building in our race cars and things like that are just things that I've wanted for a long time. We feel like we're heading in a good direction, there's no doubt about it. I feel like Toyota is getting stronger than what they were last year, all three teams are on the same engine program, we've got an alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing -- there's a lot of things that are stronger this time around. And, on top of that my confidence is way higher right now than it was to start 2011."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)

Will it be difficult to transition to new crew chief Darian Grubb this season? "I think the good news is we're starting at Daytona. I think typically the first five to six races on our schedule are not my strong suit so I think that's going to be good for us, because those are the race trac ks where I kind of need to improve on and those are going to be the times that we start to learn each other's communication before we get to Richmond and Martinsville and Texas, and all of these races where we're expected to win. By then, he'll (Darian Grubb, crew chief) have an understanding of what I need out of my car and we'll live up to those expectations when it comes around."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How does it feel to be heading back to Daytona? "It always feels good to be heading to Daytona. This is my favorite race track and it means so much to the sport and to me. It doesn't matter whether you're in a passenger car, a race car or anything else, making laps at Daytona is always special. This is an all new year for me -- new team, new manufacturer, new number, new sponsor, new everything. Pretty exciting times for me and a lot to prove starting over with so many new beginnings. I'm up for the challenge. I'm really excited about the team that we have."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing?

Do you feel differently about your team with Jason Ratcliff as the crew chief? "I definitely feel like it's my team now with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) there. I can voice my opinion and I think we are all working together really well. We value each other's opinion a lot. What we've done and the accomplishments that we've had, we respect that and each other a lot. I think it's going to be a very positive change for us. I think it's a positive change for Zip (Greg Zipadelli) too. Every once in a while you just have to hit the reset button and go back at it again."

What do you like about Daytona? "Daytona -- this place is special period. I came here four or five years ago and I went for a jog around the race track and I thought that was cool. It's just Daytona and that's the cool part about it. If you win a bicycle race, it's cool. I was fortunate enough to win the Nationwide (Series) race in July and that was one of my biggest wins of my career, just because it's Daytona. The history here is up there with Indianapolis."

***

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): During the 2011 season, Toyota drivers combined for 10 wins, 38 top-five results, 86 top-10 finishes and led 1,611 laps … Kenny Wallace (seventh) was the highest-finishing Camry driver in the 2011 point standings … Wallace earned the pole in his first series start at Daytona in 1989 … Camry drivers have won three NNS races at Daytona -- Tony Stewart (Feb. 2008), Denny Hamlin (July 2008) and Joey Logano (July 2011) … Brian Scott will begin his second full season with Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 11 Dollar General Camry … Tayler Malsam will return to the Toyota lineup in the TriStar Motorsports No. 19 G-Oil Camry.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports

How did you and your brother Kurt decide to share a Nationwide Series ride? "We kind of stayed separate early on in our tenure in Cup racing just because I've tried to come out with another identity. I was always known as Kurt's younger brother. Since I've been able to branch out and develop my own brand, it makes sense for u s to now become brothers again and be able to go out there and race together and have fun, put him (Kurt) in my race cars and hopefully have him go out there and reach some success. Our parents are pumped about it. They are excited about this opportunity and us being able to run together and work together to win races again for one -- for the family."

KURT BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Are you looking forward to sharing a Nationwide Series ride with your brother Kyle? "It's just all about fun. Me wanting to help Kyle get this program started here in the Nationwide Series is the best way we could figure out how to really make a solid foundation with this program. The energy out of the Kyle Busch Motorsports building and the excitement -- there is the expectation for us to win, but at the same time this is going to be fun. I've never really jumped into a full slate of Nationwide races, but I respect Kyle and how he is the most winning driver in Nationwide. I will lean on him to guide this ship early on."

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): One year ago, Toyota drivers combined for six victories, 39 top-five results, 78 top-10 finishes, seven poles and led 2,497 laps … The Camry has yet to cross the finish line first in the Daytona 500 … Toyota driver Kyle Busch won at Daytona in July 2008 and Denny Hamlin was victorious in the second Gatorade Duel 150 race in 2008 -- a non-points event Michael Waltrip will attempt to qualify for his 26th consecutive Daytona 500 … Waltrip won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and 2003 -- one of only eight drivers with multiple wins at Daytona … RAB Racing with Brack Maggard will attempt to make its NSCS debut at the Daytona 500 with NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) regular Kenny Wallace hoping to qualify for his 11th Daytona 500 start.

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Why are you so confident heading into the 2012 season? "I think we're going to be going to the race track with completely different race cars. I can't get a heck of a lot in depth with it, but just some of the things that we're building in our race cars and things like that are just things that I've wanted for a long time. We feel like we're heading in a good direction, there's no doubt about it. I feel like Toyota is getting stronger than what they were last year, all three teams are on the same engine program, we've got an alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing -- there's a lot of things that are stronger this time around. And, on top of that my confidence is way higher right now than it was to start 2011."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)

Will it be difficult to transition to new crew chief Darian Grubb this season? "I think the good news is we're starting at Daytona. I think typically the first five to six races on our schedule are not my strong suit so I think that's going to be good for us, because those are the race trac ks where I kind of need to improve on and those are going to be the times that we start to learn each other's communication before we get to Richmond and Martinsville and Texas, and all of these races where we're expected to win. By then, he'll (Darian Grubb, crew chief) have an understanding of what I need out of my car and we'll live up to those expectations when it comes around."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How does it feel to be heading back to Daytona? "It always feels good to be heading to Daytona. This is my favorite race track and it means so much to the sport and to me. It doesn't matter whether you're in a passenger car, a race car or anything else, making laps at Daytona is always special. This is an all new year for me -- new team, new manufacturer, new number, new sponsor, new everything. Pretty exciting times for me and a lot to prove starting over with so many new beginnings. I'm up for the challenge. I'm really excited about the team that we have."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing?

Do you feel differently about your team with Jason Ratcliff as the crew chief? "I definitely feel like it's my team now with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) there. I can voice my opinion and I think we are all working together really well. We value each other's opinion a lot. What we've done and the accomplishments that we've had, we respect that and each other a lot. I think it's going to be a very positive change for us. I think it's a positive change for Zip (Greg Zipadelli) too. Every once in a while you just have to hit the reset button and go back at it again."

What do you like about Daytona? "Daytona -- this place is special period. I came here four or five years ago and I went for a jog around the race track and I thought that was cool. It's just Daytona and that's the cool part about it. If you win a bicycle race, it's cool. I was fortunate enough to win the Nationwide (Series) race in July and that was one of my biggest wins of my career, just because it's Daytona. The history here is up there with Indianapolis."

***

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): During the 2011 season, Toyota drivers combined for 10 wins, 38 top-five results, 86 top-10 finishes and led 1,611 laps … Kenny Wallace (seventh) was the highest-finishing Camry driver in the 2011 point standings … Wallace earned the pole in his first series start at Daytona in 1989 … Camry drivers have won three NNS races at Daytona -- Tony Stewart (Feb. 2008), Denny Hamlin (July 2008) and Joey Logano (July 2011) … Brian Scott will begin his second full season with Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 11 Dollar General Camry … Tayler Malsam will return to the Toyota lineup in the TriStar Motorsports No. 19 G-Oil Camry.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports

How did you and your brother Kurt decide to share a Nationwide Series ride? "We kind of stayed separate early on in our tenure in Cup racing just because I've tried to come out with another identity. I was always known as Kurt's younger brother. Since I've been able to branch out and develop my own brand, it makes sense for u s to now become brothers again and be able to go out there and race together and have fun, put him (Kurt) in my race cars and hopefully have him go out there and reach some success. Our parents are pumped about it. They are excited about this opportunity and us being able to run together and work together to win races again for one -- for the family."

KURT BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Are you looking forward to sharing a Nationwide Series ride with your brother Kyle? "It's just all about fun. Me wanting to help Kyle get this program started here in the Nationwide Series is the best way we could figure out how to really make a solid foundation with this program. The energy out of the Kyle Busch Motorsports building and the excitement -- there is the expectation for us to win, but at the same time this is going to be fun. I've never really jumped into a full slate of Nationwide races, but I respect Kyle and how he is the most winning driver in Nationwide. I will lean on him to guide this ship early on."

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags daytona, nascar-ns, toyota