HISTORY AT CHARLOTTE: The Toyota Camry will make its fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) start at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) this weekend. In May, Camry driver Kyle Busch finished third after starting from the pole. David Reutimann...
HISTORY AT CHARLOTTE: The Toyota Camry will make its fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) start at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) this weekend. In May, Camry driver Kyle Busch finished third after starting from the pole. David Reutimann (10th) also scored a top-10 finish for Toyota at Charlotte earlier this year. Last October, Dave Blaney (sixth) and Michael Waltrip (10th) both earned top-10 finishes for Toyota at LMS.
TOYOTA SWEEPS TALLADEGA: Tony Stewart achieved a career goal on Sunday at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway when he drove his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 20 Camry to victory lane for his first-ever win at the speedway. Stewart's win topped off a successful season for Toyota drivers at Talladega as Camry and Tundra drivers swept all four NASCAR races at the 2.66-mile speedway in 2008. Stewart earned the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) win in the spring and Busch went to victory lane in the April NSCS race. Todd Bodine won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race in the Germain Racing No. 30 Tundra.
TONY TALKS TALLADEGA: "To finally get that first one of the year -- and to do it here at Talladega -- people don't understand what that means to win here," said Stewart, following Sunday's race. "Winning the Nationwide race this year was huge to me -- now winning the Cup race -- it's just an awesome feeling to finally win at Talladega."
NO CONTROVERSIAL CONCLUSION: On the final 'green-white-checkered' sprint to the checkered flag, Stewart positioned his Camry in front of the field. He kept the field at bay coming out of turn four, before Regan Smith dove to the inside coming to the finish. However, NASCAR determined that Smith passed Stewart below the yellow 'out of bounds' line on the inside of the track, an illegal move according to NASCAR rules. " It's a tough position to be in when you're the first guy," explained Stewart. "It's a tough position when you're the second guy. But, we were able to finally get that first win here at Talladega."
MORE TONY TALK: "I thought once we got through that first lap (after the restart) we were going to be all right, but we got to the backstretch and he (Regan Smith) got to the bumper which was the plan and I was hoping he would get there," said Stewart. "If he could have stayed there all the way around to (turn) four and all the way through the front stretch then there was no way that anybody could get to the two of us. He got a gap there off of turn four and that gave him a run and I just had to protect my line. You hate to have to do that, but to win at Talladega I would just about wreck the whole field to win at Talladega, finally."
'CHASE'-CLIMBER: With Sunday's win at Talladega, Stewart gained four positions in the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' and jumped into the seventh position in the standings. The other two Toyota drivers competing for the championship -- JGR teammates Busch and Denny Hamlin -- are ranked 11th and 12th in the current NSCS point standings, respectively. With six races remaining, Stewart is 203 points behind current leader Jimmie Johnson.
DEBUT FOR 82: This weekend, former Formula One racer Scott Speed will make his first career NSCS start at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the No. 82 Red Bull Camry, after participating in a test session at the track (Aug. 23-24). "After the test we had, I think we have a really good chance of qualifying very well," says Speed. "We were very quick on our own. I'm really looking forward to getting out there and racing. I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot by the end of the race. I've got the opportunity to come up through the ranks of two very, very big motorsports series -- stock car racing and open-wheel racing. Fortunately, we'll be able to have a run at the top of both levels. I'm really excited for that opportunity."
SPEED SPEAKS: "So far in my career, Red Bull has made very good decisions for me," explains Speed. "Every championship, every car, every team I've raced for -- since I left go-karting -- pretty much has been where Red Bull put me. They made the right decisions to where I made it all the way to Formula One. I've been very successful in stock-car racing so far, so I trust that if they think this is time to race Cup, I believe them. Just seeing how everything has played out so far, I have to think they're right."
VETERAN ADVICE FROM VICKERS: What advice will Red Bull Racing Team driver Brian Vickers give Speed before his Cup Series debut? "It's a very competitive series with difficult cars to drive," says Vickers. "Your first year, your rookie year, there are going to be times when you're going to go really good just because you don't know any better. Sometimes, that's a positive, not knowing the dangers ahead. The most important thing is to proceed with caution and patience and try to build respect within the garage. That will go a long way. Just going out there and driving with your head and not causing problems and wrecks -- that's going to earn a lot of respect."
TEST TO BE THE BEST: All 10 full-time Toyota Camry drivers including Scott Speed -- who will make his first NSCS career start in Charlotte -- participated in a two-day test session for the NSCS teams at Lowe's Motor Speedway two weeks ago in preparation for this week's race. Speed, Busch, Stewart and Hamlin all spent time atop the testing speed charts during the session.
CHARLOTTE CHATTER: "The first Charlotte test and the first Charlotte race were both really good for us," says Vickers. "We felt like that was a turning point for us. We learned a lot of stuff at the first Charlotte test (in May). That helped the cars at the May race and also from then on. The race started out really well, and unfortunately we had a left-rear tire come off going into (turn) one that pretty much ended the day. We had a car that could win the race and we didn't accomplish it. We had a decent test (in September) and hopefully we can have another really good race -- and keep all the wheels on it and finish the thing."
MATTERS FOR MICHAEL: "The thing I love about testing is that you have time to make changes that you just don't have time to really make when you're at a race," says Waltrip, about the benefits to testing. "You can come in off the track and make a change that takes 20 or 30 minutes and go back and evaluate it. When you're at a race, it all happens so fast, you're afraid to take that amount of time to change any one or certain thing. These are real-time changes that we feel like we're learning from."
TONY'S TAKE ON TIRES: "I told the Goodyear engineers that I was really happy with the direction I think they're going," says Stewart, about the Goodyear tires used at the recent Charlotte test session. "I think they really made some big gains there and I was really proud of the tire they brought there. I'm looking forward to racing on it." DAY VS. NIGHT: "You've got to learn what the day time is going to do in the night time," says Busch, regarding practicing during the day at Charlotte and racing at night. "Because you practice during the day, you need to know what things you're working on during the day and how your car is working so when it goes to night you know what to expect during the race."
WELCOMING WALTRIP: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) will open the doors to RaceWorld USA in Cornelius, N.C. on Friday, Oct. 10 for 'Fan Appreciation Day.' MWR drivers Waltrip, Reutimann, Michael McDowell and Josh Wise will all be available for autographs from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM for the first 300 race fans attending.
GIBBS GIVES BACK: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will host their Fall FanFest on Friday, October 10, between 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Huntersville, NC race shop. Busch, Hamlin, Stewart, Joey Logano and development driver, Marc Davis will be available for autographs for the first 300 race fans attending the event. Fans must make a donation to the Mooresville Soup Kitchen in order to obtain a wrist band for the autograph lines. Other activities include a silent auction from 9:00 AM to Noon featuring special items donated by JGR, NASCAR teams and a raffle with NASCAR-related items.
MILITARY MOMENT: The Southeast Toyota Dealers will partner with a local Charlotte radio station to give away 11 spots in the NSCS driver introduction vehicles for this weekend's NSCS race at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway to current or retired military personnel. In addition to riding in the driver introduction Tundras, winners' will receive two grandstand tickets to the Bank of America 500.
-credit: toyota motorsports