History was made today at the Atlanta Motor Speedway: Toyota scored their first-ever pole in only the second race of the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in their debut season.
Being a veteran in the series nor having experience at the facility for the NCTS inaugural race was not a factor in today's Bud Pole qualifying attempts, as the fastest man on track in practice and qualifying was a rookie.
Reutimann, who is in the running for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year, the driver of the No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota Tundra, pilots the Waltrip Racing new to the series entry. Today was three for three: First career pole for the driver, the team owner and the manufacturer.
"We are starting first because of this Darrell Waltrip Motorsports Toyota team's efforts," said Reutimann, "They have put so much work into this NTN Bearings Toyota team and it showed here today at Atlanta. I just can't say enough about the team for all of their long hours at the shop and Darrell Waltrip for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime."
Team owner Darrell Waltrip added, "To be consistent and to be able to go out and qualify where you were in practice, be the top Toyota and sit on the pole is incredible. I am so overjoyed and proud of David, Crew Chief Jason Overstreet, Team Manager Bobby Kennedy and the guys for doing whatever it took to get us to this level."
Innovative Motorsports' rookie Robert Huffman was second quickest at 30.947 (179.145 mph) locking up the front row for Toyota. "I came off the gas a little bit, but am pleased with my time."
Toyota had a record day taking six of the top ten positions to start tomorrow's race.
The debut of the Tundras has been chewed over and dissected since their 2003 announcement to challenge the Fords, Chevys and Dodges for the title.
Their team lineup even sparked controversy in the paddock area for the Busch and Cup series, as Bill Davis Racing, the Dodge team, was entering Toyotas in the NCTS. Due to his involvement, Dodge severed all ties with BDR. Five teams fielding seven trucks signed on with Toyota to begin the season.
Amazed at the outcome was Carl Edwards, winner of the season opener at Daytona. "To me, that's a little hard to take."
"Congratulations to the top two qualifiers, it was a good job," continued the Roush Racing Ford driver who will start from the third position. "I have to use this opportunity to point out a couple of things.
"Toyota is a new manufacturer and this is their first race on a regular-type race track with seven new teams and they occupy four out of the top five spots, and to me that's a little hard to take. But, I'm sure, though, that NASCAR is looking at it, and I look forward to us going to the wind tunnel or the chassis dyno or whatever."
Bang Racing's veteran driver Mike Skinner has plenty of past experience on the Atlanta track, he placed his Toyota fourth on the grid. Hank Parker, Jr. showed his experience at the track by taking the 7th position in his Innovative Motorsports Toyota.
Other drivers with AMS experience did not fare as well. Ken Schrader will take his Chevy onto the track from 10th position, Bobby Hamilton starts from 12th. Shelby Howard, another newbie in NCTS, and who won at AMS in an ARCA event will start from 26th in his Toyota. Ford driver Frank Kimmel will start from 18th in his Ford.