Darlington: Toyota preview

THIS RACE -- This race will be the fourth race at Darlington Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). There will be eight Toyota Tundras in the field. LAST RACE -- In the most recent NCTS race at Phoenix International Raceway...

THIS RACE -- This race will be the fourth race at Darlington Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). There will be eight Toyota Tundras in the field.

LAST RACE -- In the most recent NCTS race at Phoenix International Raceway (Nov.5), Johnny Benson was the top- finishing Toyota driver with a fifth-place finish in the No.23 Bill Davis Racingth Tundra. Toyota drivers following Benson to the checkered flag were Travis Kvapil (15th), Mike Skinner (17 ) and Bill Lester (18th).

POINTS RACE -- After 23 races, three Toyota drivers are among the top-15 in the NCTS championship standings. Travis Kvapil is seventh in the standings with 2,940 points, just 47 points behind sixth-place David Starr. Other Tundra drivers in the top-15 are 13th-place Mike Skinner (2,793 points) and 15th-place David Reutimann (2,665 points).

ROOKIE RACE -- After 23 races, Toyota's David Reutimann, driver of the No.17 Darrell Waltrip Motorsports NTN Bearings Tundra, remains atop the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings with 214 points, 48 more than second-place Tracy Hines.

SIX TO DEBUT AT DARLINGTON -- Six of the eight Tundra drivers in the field at Darlington have never competed in a NCTS race at the South Carolina track. Travis Kvapil (3 starts) and Bill Lester (2 starts) are the two Tundra drivers who have previous NCTS experience at Darlington. Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine, Robert Huffman, Hank Parker Jr. and Mike Skinner have all previously competed at the track in the NASCAR Cup or Busch Series, but never started a NCTS race at Darlington. Only David Reutimann has never raced at Darlington.

TOP-10 TRAVIS -- Travis Kvapil has recorded three top-10 finishes in three Darlington starts. He has finished fourth (2003), sixth (2001) and seventh (2002) at the South Carolina circuit. The Janesville, Wis.-native also started all three races among the top-10 -- qualifying first (2003), sixth (2002) and seventh (2001). He earned the right to start first last season when weather forced qualifying to be cancelled -- and the point standings determined the starting line-up.

TRAVIS THINKS TOYOTA TOPS -- "Toyota has been the best manufacturer I've been involved with in the Craftsman Truck Series," says Kvapil, about the manufacturer's inaugural season in the series. "In the past, if we wanted to do a lot of testing or go to the wind tunnel, that came out of our team's pockets. Now, working with Toyota, they do a great job on the R&D side figuring out what's the best combination of every component on the race truck, and sharing that with all the teams. So, that's been a huge positive. They've kind of got a different approach to it than the other manufacturers. Coming in as a brand new manufacturer, with new teams like a lot of us are, to be winning races and to be in contention every week is pretty phenomenal."

BILL IS BACK -- Bill Lester competed in NCTS races at Darlington in 2002 and 2003. Last year, he crossed the finish line 12th -- his best Darlington result -- after starting 15th.

BENSON HAS BEEN HERE -- Johnny Benson has started 21 NASCAR Cup and Busch races at Darlington, but he has never participated in a NCTS event at the South Carolina track. Benson's racing resume includes 16 Cup starts and 5 Busch races at Darlington. In a Cup car, Benson has registered three top-10 finishes at Darlington. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-native also has 3 top-five Busch Series finishes -- including two second-place finishes in 1995.

TODD HAS TAKEN MANY LAPS -- Beginning with his first NASCAR start at Darlington in 1991, Todd Bodine has qualified for 33 races at the track -- including 14 Cup starts and 19 Busch races. Last year, Bodine captured the checkered flag in the Spring Busch Series race at Darlington, leading 71 laps en route to the win. During his Darlington career, the Chemung,thN.Y.-driver has recorded seven top-five finishes in the Busch Series. His best Cup Series finish at the track was a 4 -place in 1995.

TODD'S TAKE ON DARLINGTON -- "I won the Busch race last Spring at Darlington," says Bodine. "I've always excelled at Darlington. It's one of those tracks that you have to be good on old tires, and I've always had a knack for running good on old tires. Right now, Mike (Hillman, crew chief) and I are communicating well and we've really been clicking. So, I think we can go to Darlington and run as well as we have been all year, and have a shot at the win."

HUFFMAN HAS RUN HERE -- Although he has never competed in a NCTS race at Darlington, Innovative Motorsports driver Robert Huffman does have some experience at the track. He made the field for Busch Series races at Darlington in 1991 and 1993.

HANK HAS 10 -- Hank Parker Jr., driver of the No.21 Innovative Motorsports Tundra, has made 10 Busch Series starts at Darlington. In his 10 races, Parker Jr. has recorded two top-10 finishes.

NUMBER 20 -- Mike Skinner will be making his 20th career NASCAR start at Darlington in this year's NCTS race at track. The 1995 NCTS champion has made 15 Cup Series starts and 4 Busch Series starts at Darlington.

POLICEMAN IN THE PITS -- Detective/Sergeant Bill Cahill, an 18-year veteran of the Westtown-East Goshen (Penn.) Police Department, is a member Robert Huffman's No.12 Innovative Motorsports team. Cahill, 38, serves as the second gas man during pit stops, works on the truck during practice and qualifying, and is responsible for setting-up the pits on race day. "I've always been interested in racing," says Cahill, who is the supervisor of his department's Criminal Investigation Division. "I feel really lucky to be able to work with a great group of guys at Innovative Motorsports, and Robert and Hank Parker Jr.

DRIVING DRIVERS AROUND -- Cahill, who also serves as a Firearms Instructor, Emergency Medical Technician and Electronic Surveillance Technician, got his introduction to racing by escorting NASCAR drivers to appearances. "I met George (DeBidart) about 12 years ago at QVC, the home shopping channel located in the area where I work," says Cahill. "I handled the escorts for George to get the drivers to the studio for their appearances. George and I became good friends and he invited me to a Busch Series race in 1998. Ever since then, I've been coming back to the track -- and this year I'll only miss three races."

SIMILAR, BUT DIFFERENT -- "The biggest similarities between police work and racing are the challenges of working together as a team -- in both police work and racing you can't succeed without working as a team," says Cahill. "Not having to carry a gun and handcuffs at the track is the biggest difference. In police work, we often see people at their worst. Working for the race team gives me a chance to focus on something totally different each week."

FOUR WINS FOR TOYOTA -- Toyota has registered four victories in 22 NCTS races in its inaugural season in the series. Todd Bodine earned the two most recent wins for Toyota when he captured the checkered flag at Texas (Oct.16) and California (Oct.2) in his No.30 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra. Travis Kvapil captured the checkered flag at Michigan (July 31) and New Hampshire (Sept.18) in his No.24 Bang Racing Line-X Tundra to record Toyota's first two NCTS wins.

TOYOTA TOP-FIVES -- Toyota Tundra drivers have recorded 24 NCTS top-five finishes this season. In addition to four victories, Tundra drivers have finished second (4), third (5), fourth (6) and fifth (5). Travis Kvapil has the most top-fives for a Toyota driver this season with six finishes among the leaders -- including two wins, one second- place, two fourths and one fifth. Johnny Benson has five top-five finishes, and Todd Bodine and Mike Skinner have had four top-fives.

FOUR FIRSTS FOR TOYOTA -- Toyota has earned four NCTS pole positions in its debut season in the series. Mike Skinner earned the two most recent pole positions for Toyota when he captured the first starting spot at Texas (Oct.16) and Las Vegas (Sept.25). The two other Toyota pole positions were captured by Travis Kvapil at California (Oct.1) and David Reutimann at Atlanta (March 12).

MORE PRODUCTION TUNDRAS -- Toyota recently announced plans to nearly double engine production at its Alabama plant of the V8 engines that are used in the production Tundra models. Engine capacity will increase from approximately 250,000 to 400,000, and it will add about 300 jobs at the Huntsville-based plant.

TV TIME -- Darlington Raceway, Friday, November 12, 8:00 PM (Eastern), SPEED Channel


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Hank Parker Jr. , Johnny Benson , Bill Lester , Tracy Hines , David Reutimann , Robert Huffman , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing