Michigan: Toyota preview

THIS RACE -- This will be the fifth visit to Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Seven Toyota Tundras are entered in the Line-X Truck Bedliners 200 at the Brooklyn, Mich. track. LAST RACE -- In the...

THIS RACE -- This will be the fifth visit to Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Seven Toyota Tundras are entered in the Line-X Truck Bedliners 200 at the Brooklyn, Mich. track.

LAST RACE -- In the most recent NCTS race at Gateway International Raceway (July17), four Tundra drivers had top-10 finishes -- the first time that four Toyotas have finished in the top-10 this season. Hank Parker, Jr. was the first Toyota driver across the finish line when he guided his No.21 Innovative Motorsports Tundra to a fifth-place finish. Following Parker Jr. to the checkered flag were Travis Kvapil (seventh) in the No.24 Line-X Tundra, David Reutimann (ninth) in the No 17 NTN Bearings Tundra, and Bill Lester (10th) in the No.22 Bill Davis Racing Tundra.

POINTS PACE -- After 12 races, three Toyota drivers are among the top-15 in the NCTS championship standings. Travis Kvapil is eighth in the standings with 1564 points, 273 points behind current leader Dennis Setzer. Mike Skinner, Kvapil's teammate, is 12th in the standings (1458 points) and rookie David Reutimann sits 13th in the standings (1444 points). Reutimann also sits atop the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings with 132 points.

HANK HITS TOP-5 -- At Gateway, Hank Parker, Jr. recorded his second top five of the season with his fifth-place finish. Earlier this season, the Denver, N.C.-driver finished third at Dover (Del.) International Raceway.

HANK'S `HOT' NO.21 -- In both his top-fives this season, Hank Parker, Jr. has driven the same Tundra, which has been nicknamed `Smokey.' "My Tundra caught on fire during the Milwaukee race and `smoked' me out of the truck," explained Parker, Jr. "That's how it got the nickname." In addition to races at Gateway, Dover and Milwaukee, he drove `Smokey' at Memphis.

HANK'S FIRST -- Hank Parker Jr. will be making his first career NCTS start at Michigan. He has started two Busch Series races at the Michigan track (2001-02).

JOHNNY'S HOMECOMING -- Johnny Benson, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-native, will be returning home to make his 2004 NCTS debut. Benson will drive the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota Tundra at Michigan. Last Wednesday (July 21), Benson tested the No.23 Tundra at Nashville Superspeedway.

MORE ON JOHNNY -- Between 1995 and 1997, Johnny Benson made 12 NCTS starts. His most recent NCTS race was at Martinsville in 1997. His best career NCTS finish was a second-place at Phoenix in 1996.

`BUCKLE UP' -- Toyota Motorsports is joining NASCAR's ongoing traffic safety alliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) aimed at saving the lives of everyday drivers on America's roads. Toyota, through its participation in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS), will collaborate with the USDOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and NASCAR to encourage race fans to use their safety belts. "Unfortunately, too many young drivers still fail to emulate their racing heroes. Nearly 72 percent of males under the age of 35 killed in car crashes were not buckled up," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, M.D. "Winning consumer awareness about safe driving in Toyota trucks is just as important as winning races," said Toyota Motorsports Vice President Jim Aust. Starting at Michigan this weekend, each Toyota truck in the NCTS series will sport a "Buckle Up" decal, as will various team photographs and merchandising materials. In addition, Toyota drivers will remind fans to buckle up at appearances and speaking engagements.

BILL'S BEST -- At Gateway, Bill Lester earned his best NCTS finish of 2004, and equaled the best finish of his NCTS career. His 10th-place at Gateway was his first top-10 finish this year and the second top-10 of his career. Last year, Lester finished 10th at Kansas Speedway.

TWO TOP-15 -- Bill Lester has recorded two top-15 finishes at Michigan. Last year, he crossed the finish line 11th and in 2002 he recorded a 15th-place at the track.

NO.17 IN 10 -- David Reutimann's ninth-place finish at Gateway was his sixth top-10 of the year. Along with his Gateway finish, he has finished third (Atlanta and Texas), eighth (Martinsville) and ninth (Daytona and Kentucky).

D.R. HAS DRIVEN MIS -- David Reutimann has one career NASCAR start at Michigan. Last year, he ran the Busch Series race at the track and finished sixth.

TRAVIS HAS TWO -- Travis Kvapil has two top-10 NCTS finishes at Michigan. In 2002, he finished third at the two mile oval and last year he was seventh at the track.

MS HAS ONE -- Mike Skinner has one career NCTS start at Michigan, finishing 15th a year ago.

SECOND BEST -- The best finish by a Tundra driver this season has been second-place. Bang Racing teammates Travis Kvapil (Daytona) and Mike Skinner (Atlanta) have finished second.

TUNDRA TOPS -- Tundra drivers have finished in the top-510 times, and in the top-1020 times, in 81 combined starts by 9 different drivers. Along with seconds by Travis Kvapil (Daytona) and Mike Skinner (Atlanta), David Reutimann has two thirds (Atlanta/Texas), and Hank Parker Jr. a third in Dover. Also, Kvapil has a fourth (Atlanta) and fifth (Milwaukee), Skinner has a fourth (Dover) and fifth (Martinsville), and Parker, Jr. was fifth (Gateway).

LAP LEADERS -- A Tundra driver has led the field in eight of the 12 NCTS races in 2004, Mike Skinner has been the race leader in six events (Daytona, Atlanta, Martinsville, Charlotte, Dover and Texas) for a total of 240 laps. Travis Kvapil has led three races (Daytona, Atlanta and Milwaukee) and David Reutimann has also led three races (Daytona, Atlanta and Gateway). In addition, Bill Lester led 19 laps at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

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 NCTS pole, and Toyota's inaugural pole. He set a new NCTS mark by winning the pole in his second start.

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