Prior to the start of the season finale NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Toyota Motorsports made their expected announcement as to the teams that will run the Toyota Tundra next year.
Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development in the US, expressed his delight at announcing the teams for 2004. "We are extremely excited to be entering the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next year with these four quality teams. Each of them brings a wealth of racing experience and knowledge that will be invaluable to our program."
The debut of Toyota in one of NASCAR's top series will take place at Daytona International Speedway during February Speedweeks. Testing has been ongoing since the acceptance by NASCAR of the Toyota entry in the Truck series in 2004.
The teams that will campaign the Tundra were at this morning's press conference, they include Bang Racing, Bill Davis Racing, Innovation Motorsports, Inc. and Waltrip Racing, Inc. The total expected number of Tundra's that will compete in the 25 races scheduled for the 2004 season.
Two of the teams are known in the NASCAR circles, BDR currently fields teams in both the Busch series and the Winston Cup series. The selection of BDR is not a surprise as they lost their Dodge team status due to his involvement with Toyota Racing Development. It is expected that BDR will field two trucks, one Busch car and two Cup cars next year. Davis will continue to assist TRD.
"We're really excited about the new Tundra truck program and being involved with Toyota," Davis said. "I'm also looking forward to working with Toyota and TRD on the technical partnership building the engines."
George deBidart owns IM, the team currently competes in the Busch series. No word on the status of the team remaining in Busch in 2004 at this time. "Today is a very exciting and gratifying day for our entire organization at Innovative Motorsports. Toyota has a very prestigious and successful racing heritage, and we are honored that they have chosen us to represent them."
New to NASCAR will be Alex Meshkin of Bang Racing. Meshkin and former crew chief, Larry McReynolds formed the team to run solely in the Truck series. "Entering NASCAR as the youngest NASCAR team owner has been a dream realized for me," commented the 23-year-old Meshkin. "Bang Racing is positioned to provide excellent racing performance and excitement for the fans."
Darrell Waltrip, who competed in CTS this year for selected races returns next year with his own team. "I'm really excited to be part of one of the most exciting things to happen to NASCAR in a long time," the TV analyst and former Cup drive, Waltrip stated.
At this time, drivers for each team have yet to be announced, one of the questions that goes, at this time, unanswered is will Waltrip get behind the wheel at selected venues.