BOBBY'S SEASON DEBUT: Former Cup champion Bobby Labontefinished fourth at Daytona International Speedway in his first race with JTG-Daugherty Racing. It was the team's seventh top-five finish since entering the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) in 2009. In addition to his 2000 NSCS championship, Labonte has 21 career wins, 115 top-five results and 200 top-10 finishes.
SUN DEVIL IN THE PITS: Former Arizona State University football player Wes Evans, 25, brings his athletic ability and dedication to the Red Bull Racing Team pit crew as the gas man for the No.83 Red Bull Camry driven by Brian Vickers. Evans played tight end and defense during his collegiate career with the Sun Devils. The Reno, Nevada-native graduated with a marketing/communications degree. He works for the team's marketing department when not working on the pit crew.
KENNY CONNECTS TO CAMRY: Joining the Toyota NASCAR lineup in 2011 is Kenny Wallace, three time recipient of the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) most popular driver award (1991, 1994 and 2006). The younger brother of Toyota team owner, Rusty, Wallace drives the RAB Racing No.09 Camry.
MICHAEL'S MOMENT: Toyota team owner and driver Michael Waltrip earned his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory last Friday at Daytona. His victory came in the Vision Aviation Racing No.15 Tundra -- the same number he had for his first Daytona 500 win 10 years earlier to the day. The 47-year-old driver became the 22nd driver in NASCAR history to win a race in all three national series and the triumph also marked his first behind the wheel of a Toyota.
PASTRANA TO PERFORM: Prior to making his NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) debut in July in Indianapolis, Travis Pastrana is getting some seat time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West. The `X-Games' athlete and rally racer finished sixth in the Toyota All-Star Showdown in January. Pastrana will drive the No.99 Boost Mobile Camry at Phoenix on Thursday.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): In the season-opening Daytona 500 -- the start of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season -- Toyota drivers combined for one top-five result, twotop -10 finishes and led 29 laps ... Camry drivers have earned 11 top-10 NSCS finishes at Phoenix ... Camry driver Kyle Busch has one win (Nov.2005) and one pole (April 2006) at Phoenix ... Denny Hamlin earned his first-ever NSCS pole (Nov.2005) at Phoenix ... Martin Truex Jr. has one pole (Nov. 2009) at Phoenix ... Joey Logano earned his career-best Phoenix NSCS finish (third) last November ... The TOYOTA DRIVE CENTER, featuring an off-road ride and drive experience for fans, will be located outside gates three and four at Phoenix ... The TOYOTA PITPASS display, featuring driver visits and interactive fan opportunities, will also be on-site at Phoenix.
DAVID REUTIMANN, No.00 Best Western Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Where does your team need to make big improvements this season? "Our 1.5-mile program is pretty good. I think our speedway program is decent, as well. Obviously, the road course deal is what it is. It seems like we need to be better at the flatter-type race tracks. I think our 1.5-mile program and race tracks that have some bank to them are going pretty well. The flatter-type race tracks, like Phoenix, Martinsville and Loudon -- places like that we need to get better at those race tracks. We've run well there, so we know we can run well, we just don't do it consistently."
Do flatter tracks better suit your driving style? "I would have thought they would have, coming from a background of short, flat race tracks -- I thought we would have been better there. I don't feel like I'm better at 1.5-mile tracks, I just feel like our cars are better at those tracks. We have a better product for bigger race tracks and we just need to make our product a little bit better for the flatter-type race tracks. We struggle there a bit. I know Rodney (Childers, crew chief) is working awfully hard to make it so it's not like that any more."
JOEY LOGANO, No.20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How much did you learn in the final 10 races of last season? "I think the biggest thing is that it was a big confidence-builder -- not just for me, but for my whole team. When I look at the faces on all my guys -- how excited they were just to be back at the race track, the confidence they brought over -- that's huge. Everyone is pumped up about starting this year just because of the way we ended last year. We just have to be able to do that throughout the season to make the Chase. If we keep running in the top-10 and top-five, eventually that win is going to come and we just have to be consistent and not put ourselves in positions to wreck. That was the thing that happened last year. We had a lot of good runs, we had plenty of top-10s, but we had too many wrecks and too many outside of the top-20 finishes. We have to work on consistency and we honed in on that toward the end of the year."
How was your first race back at Daytona? "It was a very special moment for me. To not finish with a car in one piece -- not so much. I want to be mad. I want to be angry. I want to be disappointed. But, I have to be honest, I'm having a hard time being that way. Although, I probably should be. I'd give anything to be in victory lane and win the Daytona 500."
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): Toyota drivers earned two top-10 finishes and led 39 laps in the first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race of the season ... Since joining the series in 2007, Camry drivers have earned 54 victories and 49 poles in the NNS ... Kyle Busch has two Phoenix NNS victories behind the wheel of a Toyota -- in April 2008 and April 2010... Ryan Truex will race the Pastrana-Waltrip Racing No.99 Camry at Phoenix.
RYAN TRUEX, No.99 Pastrana-Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry, Pastrana Waltrip Racing
How important was it to start your career at such a young age? "It's been a lot of hard work getting here. I think I've just been able to excel quicker having a brother (Martin Truex Jr.) that's been through all this and knows what it takes to get through all this. I've just been persevering. I went out every weekend and tried my best to do everything I can to get here, and now I'm here and trying to make the best of it."
What are the positives and negatives to having a well-known last name? "I've got big shoes to fill in the Nationwide Series. My brother (Martin Truex Jr.) came in and won two championships back-to-back and won a lot of races. I definitely have something to live up to and I think I can do it with this team. We've got a bunch of great people behind us, great cars, great equipment, and great everything -- it's just up to me to go out there and run my best, do the best I can and learn as quick as I can. That's the biggest thing I've had to deal with in every other series I've been in -- is go out and learn fast and deal with it, and be competitive as quick as possible. I had the seven races last year to get acclimated with Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and the whole 99 crew. I think we are ready to go into 2011 strong."
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): After the Daytona season-opener, Tundra drivers have registered one win, three top-five results and three top-10 finishes to start the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season ... Since joining the series in 2004, Tundra drivers have earned 81 victories and 78 poles in NCWTS racing ... Tundra drivers have two victories at Phoenix ... Todd Bodine picked up a victory in Nov.2005 and former Toyota driver Johnny Benson won in Nov.2006.
TODD BODINE, No.30 Germain.com Toyota Tundra, Germain Racing
How will you approach racing at Phoenix in February instead of in November? "The track will probably have a little bit more grip because it'll be a bit cooler, but it's still going to be Phoenix. It'll still slip and slide after it greases up. We are going to Phoenix with a little bit different plan. We tested at Disney World in the offseason. The track isn't close enough that we learned anything just for Phoenix, but we learned some things that should help us in general. We've run well at Phoenix in the past. We have one win there. Over the last couple years we've kind of gone away from our setup and we aren't sure what's happened. This time we're going there with a different philosophy for the Germain.com Tundra -- hoping to see if we can make that work."
-source: toyota motorsports