Indy IRP: Toyota preview

THIS RACE -- This will be the 10th visit to Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Eight Toyotas -- the most Tundras to appear in one NCTS race this season -- are scheduled to compete in the Power Stroke...

THIS RACE -- This will be the 10th visit to Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Eight Toyotas -- the most Tundras to appear in one NCTS race this season -- are scheduled to compete in the Power Stroke Diesel 200 at IRP.

TOYOTA TRIUMPHS -- Toyota earned its first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory when Travis Kvapil captured the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway (July 31) in his No.24 Bang Racing Line-X Tundra. Earlier this season, Toyota posted a pair of second-place finishes at Daytona (Kvapil) and Atlanta (Mike Skinner).

LUCKY 13 -- Toyota's inaugural NCTS victory came in the 13th race of its debut season in the NCTS. "Looks like this was our lucky race number 13," said Jim Aust, vice president of Toyota Motorsports. "A lot of people have been working hard towards this goal and they deserve a lot of credit -- including everyone at TRD and all our race team partners. We're looking forward to more of these before the season is over."

TRAVIS TACKLES MIS -- At Michigan, Travis Kvapil battled back from several problems en route to recording Toyota's first NCTS victory. Qualifying was cancelled due to the weather, Kvapil brushed the wall in the final practice session, and then he had to start the race from the rear of the field after an engine change following practice. During the race, the Janesville, Wis.-native worked his way through the field and by the halfway point had moved into the top-10. Kvapil then passed his Bang Racing teammate, Mike Skinner, on lap 84 (of 100) and led the final 17 circuits around the Michigan two-mile oval on his way to the historic win .

KVAPIL JOINS ELITE COMPANY -- Travis Kvapil now joins Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon, Juan Montoya, Rod Millen and Ivan Stewart in the Toyota record books as a first-time winner in a major professional race series. De Ferran recorded Toyota's first Indianapolis 500 victory (2003), Dixon registered Toyota's first IRL win (2003) and Montoya was Toyota's initial CART race winner (2000). In addition, Millen scored Toyota's first Pike's Peak Hill Climb triumph (1994) and Stewart had the first Baja 1,000 victory for Toyota.

ONE IN FOUR -- The win at Michigan was Travis Kvapil's fourth career NCTS victory. He has won one NCTS race in each of the past three years. In addition to his Michigan win, Kvapil has recorded victories at Bristol (2003), Memphis (2002) and Texas (2001).

TRIO IN TOP-FIVE -- Along with Travis Kvapil, two other Toyota Tundra drivers finished among the top-five in the recent race at Michigan. Mike Skinner crossed the finish line third in his No.42 Bang Racing Tundra and Johnny Benson finished fourth in the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra. It marks the first time that three Tundras have finished among the top-five.

MORE ON MIKE -- Skinner, who led the field three times for a total of 26 laps at Michigan, recorded his fourth top- five finish of the 2004 season. It also marked the seventh race this season in which Skinner has led the field.

DANDY DEBUT -- Grand Rapids, Mich.-native Johnny Benson returned home to make his 2004 NCTS debut with Bill Davis Racing. Benson, who was making his first NCTS start since 1997, started 31st in the No.23 Tundra when qualifying was cancelled due to rain. Even though he was running outside the top-10 with 20 laps remaining in the race, Benson charged past several cars in the final laps to earn a fourth-place finish -- the best finish by the No.23 Tundra all season.

GOOD TO BE BACK -- Johnny Benson was happy to be racing again following his run at Michigan. "I wish the race had lasted another 100 laps," said Benson, following the race. "My Tundra was running really good, but there were just some guys I couldn't get past. Maybe, with some more laps, I might have been able to make a move."

HOT HUFFMAN -- Rookie Robert Huffman recorded his second top-10 finish in the past three races when he guided his No.12 Innovative Motorsports Tundra to a ninth-place at Michigan. He was also the top finishing rookie in the field at Michigan. Huffman also crossed the finish line 10th in Kentucky.

2 STRAIGHT 4 IN 10 -- Michigan was the second straight race in which four Tundra drivers registered top-10 results. At St. Louis (July 17), Toyota Tundra drivers Hank Parker Jr. (5th), Travis Kvapil (7th), David Reutimann (9th) and Bill Lester (10th) all finished among the top-10.

POINTS PACE -- After 13 races, three Toyota drivers are among the top-15 in the NCTS championship standings. Travis Kvapil is seventh in the standings with 1,749 points, 222 points behind current leader Dennis Setzer, and just 77 points from third-place in the standings. Mike Skinner, Kvapil's teammate, is ninth in the standings (1,628 points) and rookie David Reutimann sits 14th in the standings (1,535 points).

RETURN OF D.W. -- At IRP, Darrell Waltrip will return to the racetrack in his No.11 Toyota Tundra. It will be his second race the season. Earlier this year, Waltrip finished 24th at Martinsville.

MIKE IS `THE MAN' -- Mike Skinner dominated the first two NCTS races at Indianapolis in 1995 and 1996. In both races, Skinner earned the pole position in qualifying and then went on to capture the checkered flag. The two IRP wins are half of Skinner's NCTS wins from the pole position.

MIKE'S LAST YEAR HERE -- A year ago, Mike Skinner started a pair of races at IRP. He competed in both the NCTS race and the Busch event at IRP -- finishing better in his Busch car (7th) than his Craftsman Truck (26th).

COUNTDOWN FOR TK -- Travis Kvapil has three top-five finishes at IRP and in each of the past three years he has improved his finishing position. He has finished fifth (2001), third (2002) and second (2003) at IRP.

ROBERT'S BACK -- In 1997, Robert Huffman made his second career NCTS   .
start at Indianapolis Raceway Park He started 25th and finished 29th,  .
completing 182 of 202 laps                                             .

TWO FIRSTS -- Both Hank Parker Jr. and David Reutimann will be making their first career NCTS starts at IRP.

TUNDRA TOPS -- Tundra drivers have finished in the top-513 times, and in the top-1024 times, in 88 combined starts by 10 different drivers. Travis Kvapil has Toyota's first-place finish this season. In addition, Kvapil (Daytona) and Mike Skinner (Atlanta) have finished second. David Reutimann (Atlanta, Texas), Hank Parker Jr. (Dover), and Skinner (Michigan) have all finished third. Also, Kvapil has a fourth (Atlanta) and fifth (Milwaukee), Skinner has a fourth (Dover) and fifth (Martinsville), Parker, Jr. was fifth (Gateway), and Johnny Benson was fourth (Michigan).

LAP LEADERS -- A Tundra driver has led the field in nine of the 13 NCTS races in 2004, Mike Skinner has been the race leader in seven events (Daytona, Atlanta, Martinsville, Charlotte, Dover, Texas and Michigan) for a total of 266 laps. Travis Kvapil has led four races (Daytona, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Michigan), David Reutimann has led three races (Daytona, Atlanta and Gateway) and Bill Lester led 19 laps at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

POLE NO.1 -- In Atlanta, a Tundra captured the NCTS pole position for the first time. David Reutimann recorded a speed of 179.452 MPH (30.894 seconds) to earn his first NCTS pole, and Toyota's inaugural pole. He set a new NCTS mark by winning the pole in his second start.

`BUCKLE UP' -- Toyota Motorsports has joined NASCAR's ongoing traffic safety alliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) aimed at saving the lives of everyday drivers on America's roads. Toyota, through its NCTS participation, will collaborate with the USDOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and NASCAR to encourage race fans to use their safety belts. Starting at Michigan last weekend, each Toyota truck in the NCTS series will sport a "Buckle Up" decal for the remainder of the season. In addition, Toyota drivers will remind fans to buckle up at appearances and speaking engagements.

TV TIME -- Power Stroke 200, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Fri., August 6, 8:00 PM (Eastern), SPEED Channel


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Hank Parker Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Johnny Benson , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Robert Huffman , Rod Millen , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing