BENSON THE BEST: Toyota Tundra driver Johnny Benson captured his first NCTS driver's championship with a thrilling finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway to edge Ron Hornaday, Jr., in the final standings by just seven points. It marked Benson's second-career NASCAR title -- having won the Nationwide Series championship in 1995. In addition, Toyota earned its third consecutive NCTS manufacturer's title in 2008.
WINNING WAYS: Benson won the NCTS title on the strength of five wins in the Bill Davis Racing (BDR) No. 23 Tundra during the 25-race season. Benson won four of five races over the summer -- at Milwaukee (June 20), Kentucky (July 19), Indianapolis (July 25) and Nashville (Aug. 9) -- to establish himself as a championship contender. A victory at Martinsville on Oct. 18, coupled with 18 top-10 finishes throughout the year, helped seal the title.
JOHNNY BE GOOD: "Even though it's been a fair amount of years since my last championship, this one means a tremendous amount to me," says Benson. "That's our first championship for Bill Davis Racing. They have won many races throughout their organization. They've been close on the championship before, and now to make that happen for them is something that our whole team is extremely proud of. To be able to get that done and get the championship for Bill and Gail (Davis, team owners) is something that means a tremendous amount to me."
TUNDRAS MOVE FORWARD: Tundra drivers combined for 13 wins in 25 races in 2008. In addition to Benson's five victories, 2006 NCTS champion Todd Bodine won three races -- Daytona (Feb. 15), Talladega (Oct. 4) and the season finale at Homestead (Nov. 14) -- as did Busch, who won at California (Feb. 23), Atlanta (March 7) and Bristol (Aug. 20). Rookie driver Scott Speed earned his first series win at Dover (May 30), while fellow BDR competitor Mike Skinner was victorious at Las Vegas (Sept. 20).
POINTS PACE: Five Toyota drivers finished in the top-10 in the point standings this past season. Benson's first-place finish in the championship standings led the way for the Tundra contingent, followed by Bodine (third), Skinner (sixth), Jack Sprague (ninth) and Terry Cook (10th) in the final standings. In total, 35 Tundra drivers combined for 13 wins, 62 top-five results and 116 top-10 finishes throughout the 2008 campaign, leading 1,929 laps in NCTS competition.
TEAMS AND FANS APPRECIATED: "Toyota is not immune to the challenges currently being faced by the automobile industry," said Ed Laukes, corporate manager of motorsports marketing at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. "The market this year has been more challenging than expected, and no automaker has been unaffected during these times. The current economic situation has impacted everyone, including our race teams, and we appreciate all their efforts that have led to race wins and championships, as well as all the NASCAR race fans that support the series."
-credit: toyota motorsports