Phoenix: Toyota preview

THIS RACE -- This race will be the 14th race at Phoenix International Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). There will be eight Toyota Tundras in the field. LAST RACE -- In the most recent NCTS race at Martinsville (VA) Speedway...

THIS RACE -- This race will be the 14th race at Phoenix International Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). There will be eight Toyota Tundras in the field.

LAST RACE -- In the most recent NCTS race at Martinsville (VA) Speedway (Oct.23), Todd Bodine was the top- finishing Toyota driver in the No.30 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra when he crossed the finish line seventh. Toyota drivers following Bodine to the checkered flag were Robert Huffman, who was 10th in the No.12 Innovative Motorsports Tundra, and Johnny Benson, who finished 11th in the No.22 Bill Davis Racing Tundra.

POINTS RACE -- After 22 races, three Toyota drivers are among the top-15 in the NCTS championship standings. Travis Kvapil is sixth in theh standings with 2,822 points, just 90 points th from fifth-place Matt Crafton. Other Tundra drivers in the top-15 are 12t -place Mike Skinner (2,681 points) and 15 -place David Reutimann (2,565 points).

ROOKIE RACE -- After 22 races, Toyota's David Reutimann, driver of the No.17 Darrell Waltrip Motorsports NTN Bearings Tundra, remains atop the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings with 214 points, 49 more than second-place Tracy Hines. Toyota's Robert Huffman is fourth in the rookie race with 150 points.

ROOKIE RESULTS -- This season, a first-year Toyota driver has been the top rookie to the finish line in more than half of this year's NCTS races. Rookie Tundra drivers David Reutimann and Robert Huffman have combined to be the first rookies to the finish line 15 times. Reutimann has been the top-finishing rookie in nine races -- Daytona, Atlanta, Martinsville, Texas, Kentucky, St. Louis, Bristol, NH and California. Huffman has been the first rookie to the checkered flag six times -- Charlotte, Dover, Michigan, Nashville, Richmond and Martinsville.

SKINNER STRONG IN AZ -- Mike Skinner, a Susanville, Calif.-native, has had a great deal of success in NCTS races at Phoenix. Skinner won the very first NCTS race, which was held at Phoenix 10 years ago. In that race, Skinner started 16th, led 30 laps, and crossed the finish line first. He also captured the checkered flag in the second NCTS race at Phoenix later that year -- starting third and leading 89 laps en route to `Victory Lane.'

MORE ON MIKE -- In addition to his two wins at Phoenix in 1995, Mike Skinner also started a pair of races in 1996 at the Arizona one-mile oval. In the Spring race at Phoenix that season, Skinner qualified on the pole and crossed the finish line second. Later in the year at the Fall Phoenix race, Skinner started seventh and finished fourth.

SKINNER AMONG EX-CHAMPS AT PHOENIX -- Mike Skinner, the 1995 NCTS champion, will be racing against two other former NCTS champions -- Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague -- at Phoenix. "Obviously, coming up on the 10th anniversary of the Craftsman Truck Series, to have the three of us back racing together again is pretty cool," says Skinner. "When you're racing against Ron and Jack, you know you're racing against the best. I'm looking forward to getting back to Phoenix and racing against the best."

LOOKING FOR LUCK -- "We've had great trucks in the last few races, but we can't seem to get a break," says Mike Skinner. "Things keep happening to us on the race track that are out of our control, and there seems to be nothing we can do about it." Skinner was caught up in accidents in two of the past three races -- Martinsville and California -- and had a tire go down while leading the Texas race.

BENSON'S BEEN HERE BEFORE -- Johnny Benson, driver of the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, has three previous NCTS starts at Phoenix. In 1995 he qualified for two NCTS races at the track, and the following year he started one Phoenix NCTS race. His best result at the Arizona oval was when he crossed the finish line second in 1996, and his best starting position was second in that same race. During his career, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-native has made a total of 12 NASCAR Cup, Busch and NCTS starts at Phoenix.

BODINE IN PHOENIX -- Todd Bodine has never started a NCTS race at Phoenix, but he has participated in 13 NASCAR Cup (9) and Busch (4) Series races at the track. He has two top-10 Busch Series finishes at Phoenix, recording a fifth-place (2001) and ninth-place (1999).

TODD'S TUNDRA TOPS -- In six starts this season driving the No.30 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra, Todd Bodine has recorded two wins and five top-10s, and has been the first Tundra to the finish line in four consecutive starts. In addition to capturing the checkered flag at Texas (Oct.16) and California (Oct.2), the 40-year-old racer finished second at Las Vegas (Sept.25) and seventh at Martinsville (Oct.23). Bodine also finished fourth at Richmond (Sept. 9), and has led the field at Texas (71 laps), California (28 laps) and Las Vegas (28 laps).

TALKING ABOUT THE TRACK -- "I love Phoenix," says Bodine. "I've had some good runs in Phoenix, although I haven't really had the good finishes we deserved. It's a neat race track with two different corners and a `kink' in the back straightaway -- which makes it really unique. It's definitely a driver's track where you need a good set-up and good horsepower. You need the whole `package' to do well in Phoenix."

MORE TALK FROM TODD -- "Success is really about people," says Bodine. "Basically, we all have similar equipment and it's the people around that equipment that make the difference. Toyota has great people working in their program that give us the equipment. And, Mike Hillman (crew chief) has hired the right people and he's the right person to lead this team."

PHOENIX DEBUTS -- Innovative Motorsports teammates Hank Parker Jr. (No.21) and Robert Huffman (No.12) will both be making their first NCTS starts at Phoenix. Huffman has never raced at the Phoenix oval, while Parker Jr. has four Busch Series starts at the track.

ROBERT'S REVIEW -- "This season has been more difficult than I thought," says rookie Robert Huffman. "I knew the Craftsman Truck Series was tough -- but it's unbelievable how tough. I think it is one of the toughest series out there in terms of competition."

IT'S BRAND NEW David Reutimann is another Toyota driver who has never competed at Phoenix. "I've never even been to the Phoenix track before," says Reutimann. "I've only watched races from there on TV. I hear that it's unique, flat, and a really fast track. I've talked to Joe Nemechek and a couple other drivers and they said the track is easy to overdrive, just like any flat track. I'm looking forward to competing there for the first time."

T.K. IN AZ -- Travis Kvapil has three top-10 NCTS finishes at Phoenix. The Janesville, Wis.-native has finished fourth (2002) once and ninth twice (2003 and 2001) at the track. His best qualifying effort earned him a seventh-place starting position in 2001.

BILL'S BACK -- Bill Lester has three previous NCTS starts at Phoenix. He has three top-20 finishes at the track, with his best result being a 15th-place finish (2002). His best starting position came in 2002 when he qualified on the outside of the front row.

SEE K.C. -- Five Toyota drivers tested their Tundras last Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct.26-27) at Kansas Speedway in preparation for the final three races of the season. Todd Bodine, Robert Huffman, Travis Kvapil, Hank Parker Jr. and Mike Skinner participated in the test session. "It rained Tuesday so we didn't run as much as we would have liked," said Skinner. "We struggled a bit, but I think the test will definitely help us at Phoenix."

MORE PRODUCTION TUNDRAS -- Toyota recently announced plans to nearly double V-8 engine production at its Alabama plant for production Tundra models. Engine capacity will increase from approximately 250,000 to 400,000, and it will add about 300 jobs at the Huntsville-based plant.

FOUR WINS FOR TOYOTA -- Toyota has registered four victories in 22 NCTS races in its inaugural season in the series. Todd Bodine earned the two most recent wins for Toyota when he captured the checkered flag at Texas (Oct. 16) and California (Oct.2) in his No.30 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra. Travis Kvapil captured the checkered flag at Michigan (July 31) and New Hampshire (Sept.18) in his No.24 Bang Racing Line-X Tundra to record Toyota's first two NCTS wins.

TOYOTA TOP-FIVES -- Toyota Tundra drivers have recorded 23 NCTS top-five finishes this season. In addition to four victories, Tundra drivers have finished second (4), third (5), fourth (6) and fifth (4). Travis Kvapil has the most top-fives for a Toyota driver this season with six finishes among the leaders -- including two wins, one second-place, two fourths and one fifth. Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine and Mike Skinner have all had four top-fives. Benson has earned his four top-fives in just 10 races and Bodine has recorded his top-fives in only six starts.

FOUR FIRSTS FOR TOYOTA -- Toyota has earned four NCTS pole positions in its debut season in the series. Mike Skinner earned the two most recent pole positions for Toyota when he captured the first starting spot at Texas (Oct.16) and Las Vegas (Sept.25). The two other Toyota pole positions were captured by Travis Kvapil at California (Oct.1) and David Reutimann at Atlanta (March 12).

-toyota-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Joe Nemechek , Hank Parker Jr. , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Matt Crafton , Bill Lester , Tracy Hines , David Reutimann , Robert Huffman , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing