FUTURE NASCAR STARS SET TO SHINE IN TOYOTA CHALLENGE RACING CLASSIC, SECOND ROUND OF THE TOYOTA CHALLENGE TORRANCE, Calif. (July 21, 2008) -- There was a time when USAC's most talented young open-wheelers dreamed of racing at Indianapolis.
FUTURE NASCAR STARS SET TO SHINE IN TOYOTA CHALLENGE RACING CLASSIC, SECOND ROUND OF THE TOYOTA CHALLENGE
TORRANCE, Calif. (July 21, 2008) -- There was a time when USAC's most talented young open-wheelers dreamed of racing at Indianapolis. Today, many of the young stars are heading to the midwest to race at O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) for Thursday's Toyota Challenge Racing Classic, in hopes of someday racing at the world famous Daytona International Speedway.
There's no better example than last year's Toyota Challenge Racing Classic winner Bryan Clausen, who clinched the Toyota Challenge for Keith Kunz' Motorsports a year ago. Since then, Clausen has advanced to the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) and is currently the NNS 'Rookie of the Year' points leader.
This year's Toyota Challenge field includes a minimum of seven young talented drivers who have already signed NASCAR developmental contracts. Those drivers include Bobby East, winner of this year's first round of the Toyota Challenge, ARCA points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Billy Wease, Bobby Santos, Brady Bacon, Stephanie Mockler and Kevin Swindell. They will be joined by current NNS star Jason Leffler, who won the Toyota Camry's first-ever race at ORP a year ago.
Rounding out the field are USAC veterans Dave Darland, Jerry Coons, Jr., Dave Steele and Tracy Hines, as they will battle it out for one of the biggest prizes in USAC racing. This event is the second event of the Toyota Challenge, a series within the USAC National Midget Car Series.
"The Toyota Challenge has been a showcase for some of the top young talents in the sport," said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager. "It's amazing that in just our third year, the list of Toyota Challenge race winners reads like a who's who of USAC -- Dave Steele, Bryan Clausen, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Santos Jr., Bobby East and Kevin Swindell. The cream has definitely risen to the top and we expect more of the same in round number two this Thursday."
East, who also has driven for Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, gave the #4 Klatt Enterprises team the Toyota Challenge lead with a dominating victory in round one that was held the night before the Indianapolis 500. They will take an eight-point advantage over Kody Swanson and his #19 Nine Racing Team and a 12-point lead over the #151 Jeff West team.
After Thursday's event, the Toyota Challenge will conclude with the Toyota Challenge Showdown at ORP on Sept. 12. The three-event "championship within a championship" will feature a total purse of $25,000 distributed to the top-five overall point finishers. Keith Kunz Motorsports won the Toyota Challenge in each of the event's first two seasons.
The Toyota Challenge event is one of three major USAC initiatives implemented by Toyota. The manufacturer also offers a unique year-end owner's bonus fund that can total up to $25,000 to recognize and support entrant participation. At the end of the season, the top-10 point standings USAC National Midget Series team owners will receive $100 for every event entered in the 2008 schedule.
The USAC National Midget Racing Series, Western States Midgets, the USAC Silver Crown Series, National Sprints and Western States Sprints are also a part of the Toyota Motorsports/TRD, U.S.A Contingency Awards Program that is designed to reward exemplary performance. In addition, TRD, U.S.A., is now also an engine supplier to both the USAC Silver Crown Series and Sprint cars.
-credit: toyota motorsports