Eric Van Cleef Ready to Debut Toyota At Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, AL. (MARCH 1 2000) - Toyota racing machines are not new to motorsports nor are they new to NASCAR racing, The Toyota Celica has been an approved model on NASCAR's Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring, since the mid-nineties. What...

MONTGOMERY, AL. (MARCH 1 2000) - Toyota racing machines are not new to motorsports nor are they new to NASCAR racing, The Toyota Celica has been an approved model on NASCAR's Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring, since the mid-nineties.

What does make it different for NASCAR's Goody's Dash Series 2000 racing season is having renewed factory support from Toyota for Eric Van Cleef's race team Van Cleef. an experience road racer and Florida native, now calls Huntsville, Ala. home

Van Cleef is looking forward to the March 18 series event, as a 2000 Rookie of the Year candidate, at Montgomery Motor Speedway with an eye on making the 28-car starting field, something that escaped the Toyota team in February at Daytona.

"We've got a good team and Toyota has a good track record in motorsports," said Van Cleef from his raceshop in Huntsville. "They just don't have the experience in stock car racing and that is what we are trying to give them. At Daytona we were only 39th quickest out of 54 cars and since we only ran four races in 1999 we didn't have a provisional starting spot. We had some mechanical problems in our last practice session just before qualifying. The team worked hard trying to correct things but we just didn't have enough time to make it right."

The power plant used in Van Cleef's Toyota Celica is a 24-valve four-cam V-6 engine and this is revolutionary for NASCAR competition, The V-6 engine has been used in many divisions of NASCAR competition through the years and was just added to the Goody's Dash Series In 1999, But the 24-valve four-cam model is new and being closely scrutinized by NASCAR officials,

"I got involved with Toyota 15 years ago, when my brother and I built a Toyota Corolla to go SCCA road racing," commented Van Cleef. "We started winning right away and continued with that venue until two years ago. When I heard they were interested in the stock car side of racing I stuck my neck out and let the folks at Toyota know I was interested in helping them with the program,"

"I couldn't be happier working with a factory program like this," continued Van Cleef. "They know all will not be gravy this year and there is much to learn but the important thing is they are doing the testing, And that will only make the passenger car we see everyday on our streets and highways better, Remember Rome wasn't built in a day,"

"We know there will be loyal Toyota fans at Montgomery on March 18 and we hope to show them the Toyota is just as competitive as the Pontiac, Chevrolet, Ford and Mercury. After all wasn't Toyota voted No. 1 new car in America,"

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