Mansfield: Toyota preview

THIS RACE: This is the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. Seven Toyota Tundras are entered in the Ohio 250. LAST RACE: In the most recent NCTS race at Martinsville Speedway (April 17), five ...

THIS RACE: This is the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. Seven Toyota Tundras are entered in the Ohio 250.

LAST RACE: In the most recent NCTS race at Martinsville Speedway (April 17), five Toyota Tundras finished among the top-20. Mike Skinner, who led 38 laps in the race, crossed the finish line fifth in his No.42 Bang Racing Toyota and rookie David Reutimann finished eighth in his No.17 NTN Bearings Toyota. Hank Parker Jr. (12th), Travis Kvapil (13th) and Bill Lester (17th) were the other Toyota drivers in the top-20.

POINTS PACE: After three NCTS races, three Toyota drivers are among the top-five in the NCTS championship standings. Kvapil, the defending NCTS champion, is second in the standings with 464 points, 22 points behind leader Carl Edwards. David Reutimann is fourth (455 points), and Mike Skinner is fifth (424 points).

MIKE LEADS 3: In all three 2004 NCTS races, Mike Skinner has been a race leader. In the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Skinner led six laps. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Skinner led the race five times for a total of 68 laps, and at Martinsville Speedway, he led the field in his No.42 Bang! Racing Tundra for 38 laps.

ALL TOP-10s: Rookie David Reutimann has started the 2004 NCTS season with three straight top-10 finishes. The Zephyrhills, FL-native opened the season with a ninth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway. He then crossed the finish line third at Atlanta Motor Speedway and eighth at Martinsville Speedway.

MOVING UP: Hank Parker Jr. (No.21 Innovative Motorsports Tundra) and rookie Shelby Howard (No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra) registered their best finishes of the season at Martinsville. Parker, who returned to his Tundra after injuring his back in an accident at Atlanta, was 12th at Martinsville. In his two previous starts this season, Parker finished 18th (Daytona) and 33rd (Atlanta). The 18-year-old Howard crossed the finish line 23rd in Martinsville, after finishing 29th (Daytona) and 25th (Atlanta).

IN OHIO: One Toyota Tundra driver has experience racing in Ohio. Shelby Howard has raced in Ohio in each of the past three years while competing in the ARCA series. A year ago, Howard started fourth and finished third at Ohio's Toledo Speedway. He also competed in ARCA series events at Toledo Speedway in 2002 (finished 11th) and in 2001 (finished 18th).

NCTS vs. ARCA: "The biggest difference between the ARCA series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is the level of competition," says Shelby Howard. "There is a lot more competition here (NCTS), and there are definitely more good drivers. In the ARCA series, there were really only five or six cars that had a chance to win every weekend. Here, I think there are probably 20 or 25 trucks with a chance to win every race ."

RH AT DERBY: Robert Huffman, driver of the Innovative Motorsports No.12 Toyota Tundra, attended a Soap Box Derby Clinic sponsored by Toyota Motorsports in Cleveland on Saturday, April 24. Toyota Motorsports donated 10 Soap Box Derby kits to youth from Cleveland's inner city recreation centers. Huffman helped the kids build their Derby cars, signed autographs and then took a `test' drive in a Soap Box Derby car. "This was my first experience with the Soap Box Derby and I had a great time," said Huffman. "My son has been interested in the Soap Box Derby for some time, and now I'll be able to answer all his questions."

OHIO READS: Bang Racing, Toyota Motorsports and Ohio Governor Bob Taft will attend an assembly at Leawood Elementary School in Columbus on Thursday, May 13, to promote literacy and 'OhioReads,' the Governor's major education initiative to improve the reading skills of elementary school students. Travis Kvapil and Mike Skinner will speak to more than 425 inner-city school students about the importance of reading and the value of an education, and Governor Taft will read to the children from the new NASCAR book, 'Speedway Superstars.' Bang Racing and Toyota Motorsports will also present a check for $10,000 to Governor Taft to fund a unique OhioReads program, 'Be a Champion: Just Read.' Toyota will make an additional donation of $1,500 if both Bang Racing drivers complete all 250 laps in the Mansfield race, as well as $1,000 for a pole, and $2,500 for the checkered flag. Over the past 12 years, Toyota has supported various learning initiatives and contributed roughly half of its philanthropic funds to educational initiatives.

POLE NO.1: In Atlanta, a Tundra captured the NCTS pole position for the first time. David Reutimann recorded a speed of 179.452 MPH (30.894 seconds) to earn his first career pole position.

FAST FIRST: Reutimann established a NCTS record by winning the pole position in just his second career series start. It makes the Zephyrhills, FL-native the fastest official NCTS rookie to ever be the quickest qualifier. The previous mark was set by Greg Biffle, who in 1998 registered a pole position in his third career NCTS start.

BUILD IT: The Toyota Racing Development (TRD) R&D and production facility in High Point, NC employs 17 people. While everyone is involved in the overall NCTS Tundra production, it takes seven employees working between eight and nine hours a day five days to build a NCTS Toyota Tundra. It takes about 20 hours from start-to-finish to build a production Tundra at Toyota's Princeton, Indiana facility, where 5,004 associates work and where a new Tundra rolls off the assembly line every 74 seconds. Princeton, Indiana is the only place in the world where production Tundras are built.

-toyota-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Greg Biffle , Hank Parker Jr. , Shelby Howard , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , Robert Huffman , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing , Toyota Racing