TOYOTA TIDBITS -- November 30 - December 4, 2009
COUNTING CAMRY CUP NUMBERS: Toyota drivers combined for 11 wins, 42 top-five results and 75 top-10 finishes in 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races in 2009. Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin each had four NSCS wins, while Joey Logano, David Reutimann and Brian Vickers each drove to victory lane once. Hamlin and Vickers qualified for the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff, finishing fifth and 12th, respectively. Busch (13th), Reutimann (16th), Marcos Ambrose (18th) and Logano (20th) also finished the season in the top-20 in points.
'FRESHMEN' MOVING FORWARD: Michael Waltrip Racing and the Red Bull Racing Team -- part of Toyota's 'freshmen class' in NSCS competition in 2007 -- made great strides in 2009 as each organization won its first Cup race during the year. Reutimann was victorious in May's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway and Vickers won at Michigan International Speedway in August. Vickers also recorded six poles and qualified for his first career Chase, while Reutimann was the fastest qualifier twice.
ROOKIE RACER: At the conclusion of the season, Logano was named the 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the Sprint Cup Series, edging fellow Toyota drivers Scott Speed and Max Papis. Driving in his first full season with JGR, Logano recorded three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in the No. 20 Home Depot Camry. The highlight of his season came at New Hampshire in June, when Logano recorded his first career NSCS win in the rain-shortened event.
FULL-TIME FAREWELL: Michael Waltrip completed his final full season of NSCS competition in 2009. Waltrip started his NSCS career in 1985 and has made 759 Cup starts. During his career, Waltrip has accumulated four wins -- including a pair of Daytona 500 victories (2001 and 2003) -- 39 top-five and 127 top-10 finishes. The Owensboro, Ky.,-native plans to compete part- time in the NSCS next season and focus on his efforts as team owner of Michael Waltrip Racing.
NATIONWIDE NUMBERS: Camry drivers combined for 15 wins, 68 top-five and 127 top-10 finishes in 35 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races in 2009. Busch -- the 2009 series champion -- won a series-high nine races throughout the year, and won the driver's title by 210 points over second-place finisher Carl Edwards. Logano won five NNS races and Ambrose took the checkered flag at Watkins Glen in August. Camry drivers Jason Leffler (fourth) and rookie Michael Annett (10th) also finished in the top-10 in points, and Toyota won its second consecutive Nationwide Series manufacturer's title in 2009.
RECORD-BREAKING RESULTS: Busch enjoyed a record-setting year in the Nationwide Series in 2009. He led a series- record 2,698 laps during the season and became the first driver to earn 10 consecutive top-two finishes. Busch also became the first driver to win in two of NASCAR's top-three national touring series races in the same day when he claimed checkered flags in the NNS and NCWTS events at California's Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 21). The Las Vegas-native also holds the record for the most tracks where he has won in all three series -- California, Bristol, Chicagoland, Dover, New Hampshire and Phoenix. TUNDRA TRIUMPHS: Tundra drivers combined for 14 wins, 64 top-five and 135 top-10 finishes in 25 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in 2009. Busch won a series-high seven NCWTS races in just 15 starts for Billy Ballew Motorsports, while fellow Tundra drivers Mike Skinner (three) and Todd Bodine (two) each won multiple races. Tundra drivers Timothy Peters and Brian Scott won their first-career NCWTS races in 2009. The 14 victories by Tundra drivers are also the most in a season for Toyota since joining NCWTS competition in 2004 -- having won 13 races in 2007 and 2008.
TOYOTA TITLE: Toyota won its fourth consecutive Camping World Truck Series manufacturer's title in 2009. Toyota has won the award each year since 2006, and this season, clinched the championship at Talladega in October with three races remaining. Skinner was the highest-finishing Tundra driver in the NCWTS championship point standings, ending up third behind champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. and second-place finisher Matt Crafton. Toyota drivers Bodine (fourth), Scott (seventh), Peters (eighth) and David Starr (ninth) also finished in the top-10 in the points.
MIKE'S MILESTONE: Skinner made his 150th NCWTS start driving a Tundra in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Susanville, Calif.-native has made every start in the series for Toyota since the manufacturer joined the NCWTS in 2004. In 150 races driving a Tundra, Skinner has recorded 12 victories and 35 pole positions.
TOYOTA TALLY: Toyota drivers competed in a total of 96 NASCAR races across all three national touring series in 2009, accumulating 40 total victories. In 36 NSCS races, Camry drivers recorded 11 wins (30%) and 10 poles (27%). In 35 NNS races, Camry drivers accounted for 15 race wins (43%) and 13 poles (37%). In 25 NCWTS races, Tundra drivers registered 14 victories (56%) and eight poles (32%).
KYLE COLLECTS CHECKERS: Busch tallied a season across all three of NASCAR's national series that would be considered a good career for most drivers. Making 86 total starts (36 NSCS, 35 NNS and 15 NCWTS), Busch won a remarkable 20 races -- nearly one out of every four races. He recorded 45 top-five results and 56 top-10 finishes, and had six pole positions.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you prepare yourself for next season? "Work harder in the off-season than everybody else -- whether it be physically or being in the shop. I told Joe (Gibbs, team owner) and J.D. (Gibbs, team president) we need to have mandatory meetings. There are things we need to do to make our team better and we're going to start taking those steps. I'm going to be in that shop, I'm going to be talking about things we need to work on constantly for next season. That's what got us to this point -- having our meetings and figuring out what we need to work on and getting all of the drivers on the same page and crew chiefs on the same page. That's what's gotten our team to perform the way it was at the end of the year. Now, we've got to do that in the off -season because that's when you need to make your biggest jumps."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team
What are you doing during the off-season? "Resting, for one. It is a very long season, and it's tough. I love what I do -- I really do. I love racing and it's like you get to Miami and you're just so excited about taking a few weeks off and then three weeks off and you're like, 'Okay, I'm ready to go race again.' But, we have a long season. It's not just for the drivers and the people in the sport, but I think it's a long se ason for the fans and I think everybody is looking forward to a break from an exciting year."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was working with Dave Rogers as your crew chief over the last three races of the year? "So far, so good. I like where we're at. We qualified well in the first two (Texas and Phoenix). We qualified poorly at Homestead. We raced really good at Texas, we raced decent at Phoenix and we raced really good at Homestead. We started in the back at Homestead and methodically just worked on the car, made our way up towards the front, got up towards the front and had a shot to win the race. I feel like we're heading in the right direction going forward. It's hard in this game but Dave (Rogers, crew chief) seems to have a different approach to things and a different thought process of how to go about things and so far it's working."
TREVOR BAYNE, No. 99 Toyota Camry, Diamond-Waltrip Racing
What did you learn this past season in the Nationwide Series? "I learned a lot this season. I think patience is the biggest thing I learned. During the Nationwide races you have plenty of time to adjust on your cars. You also have plenty of time to work past people so you don't have to drive the wheels off the car from lap one. In this series you have to have a little patience and realize there is plenty of time to make your way to the front."
MIKE SKINNER, No. 5 Exide Batteries Toyota Tundra, Randy Moss Motorsports
What have the past six years with Toyota meant to you? "When I heard that Toyota was entertaining getting into NASCAR back in 2003, and they were going to do it the first couple years through the Truck Series -- I really missed the trucks and wanted to get back into the series. We partnered up with Toyota and it's just been a fantastic venture ever since. We've become friends as well as business partners. It's been an honor to drive for Toyota and represent them -- it's just been really, really great. Toyota has been very supportive of me so when we have good years -- like being able to help them get four straight manufacturer's championships -- it makes it feel like it's all worth it."
-credit: toyota motorsports