THIS RACE: The American Racing Wheels 200 will be the ninth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at California Speedway. There will be nine Toyota Tundras in the field. LAST RACE: In the 2005 NCTS season-opener at Daytona International ...
THIS RACE: The American Racing Wheels 200 will be the ninth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at California Speedway. There will be nine Toyota Tundras in the field.
LAST RACE: In the 2005 NCTS season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, Toyota drivers Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson recorded top-10 finishes. Bodine, who started sixth, led the race five times for 16 laps and crossed the finish line third in the No.66 Fiddle Backh Racing Tundra. Benson, driver of the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, started 17th and led five laps en route to a 10t -place finish.
LEADING OFF: Toyota drivers led 42 of the 100 laps in the Daytona race. Six different Tundra drivers led the field in the 2005 NCTS season-opener. In addition to Todd Bodine (16 laps) and Johnny Benson (5 laps) leading laps at Daytona, Bill Lester (13 laps), Chad Chaffin (4 laps), Mike Skinner (3 laps) and David Reutimann (1 laps) paced the field at the 2.5-mile track.
DAYTONA DEBUT: The NCTS race at Daytona marked the debut for Fiddle Back Racing and its driver Todd Bodine, who joined forces in January. "It's hard to believe 30 days ago this team didn't even exist and the truck we raced didn't even exist," said Bodine, following the race. "It's incredible to come to Daytona and finish third in my first race with this team and my very first race at Daytona in a truck. It's a good way to start the year for a brand new team."
LAST YEAR IN CALIFORNIA: In 2004, Todd Bodine captured the checkered flag at California Speedway driving the No.30 Germain/Arnold Racing Toyota Tundra. Bodine qualified ninth, ran among the leaders throughout the race, and tookhthe lead with six laps remaining en route to the checkered flag. It was Bodine's first career NCTS victory (in his 11t series start), and Toyota's second win during the manufacturer's inaugural season in the series.
WHAT ABOUT WIN ONE: "It meant everything to win at California," says Bodine about last year's victory at California. "It was the first win for the team. After running second at Las Vegas the week before, we were able to go to California and prove the finish at Vegas wasn't a fluke. But, the best part was winning for Toyota in their `backyard'."
CALIFORNIA MEMORIES: What does Todd Bodine remember most about last year's win at California? "The whole weekend is what I remember," says Bodine. "We unloaded quick and were able to work on fine-tuning the truck. We didn't have to worry about being fast because we already were fast from the first practice. We just had to work on little things and that's what allowed us to be so good in the race. We could spend time on making my Tundra drive good and handle good, because we were already fast. The whole weekend was just picture perfect."
HEADING HOME: Although Mike Skinner now calls Daytona Beach, FL home, he is a California native. He was born in Ontario and grew up in Susanville. He began his racing career at California's Lassen County Fairgrounds and also won three track titles at Susanville Speedway.
LAST WIN WAS IN CALIFORNIA: Mike Skinner's last NCTS victory came at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. during the 1996 season. It was his last season as a full-time competitor in the series before returning last year.
GOING BACK TO CALI.: Brandon Whitt, driver of the No.38 Clean Line Motorsports Tundra, is excited to return to California. "I consider California to be my `home' track, even though it's still an hour from the San Diego-area," says Whitt, who's from El Cajon, Calif., but now lives in N.C. "My whole family will be coming to the race and a lot of people from my sponsor (McMillin Homes) will also be coming. I'm also looking forward to racing in front of everyone from Toyota and TRD. It's always fun to run in front of the `hometown' crowd."
CALIFORNIA CONNECTIONS: Brandon Whitt has many connections to California. "My grandfather (Jim Whitt) raced in the NASCAR Grand National series in 1972 and 1973 at Ontario and Riverside and all my family has raced at El Cajon Speedway, which is a short track located near San Diego," says Whitt. "I also made my first Craftsman Truck Series start at Mesa Marin Raceway (2003), near Bakersfield."
HATTORI HAS BEEN HERE: Although he has experience at California, Shige Hattori has never driven in a NASCAR race at the track. "The first time I raced at the California Speedway was in 1998 with the Indy Lights series," says Hattori, driver of the No.9 Germain/Arnold Racing Tundra. "That was my very first start in that series and I remember we had a really good race, finishing fourth. I have driven in two Indy Lights races and two IRL races in California."
ROSTER REVISION: Toyota's second season in the NCTS features an expanded line-up of nine drivers and five teams. Bill Davis Racing, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and Germain/Arnold Racing return while Clean Line Motorsports and Fiddle Back Racing have joined the Toyota line-up for 2005. Six of the nine drivers from 2004 also are returning for a second season.