Las Vegas: Toyota preview

THIS RACE -- The Las Vegas 350 will mark the eighth race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). There will be eight Toyota Tundras in the field. TOYOTA TRIUMPHS -- Toyota earned its second NASCAR Craftsman...

THIS RACE -- The Las Vegas 350 will mark the eighth race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). There will be eight Toyota Tundras in the field.

TOYOTA TRIUMPHS -- Toyota earned its second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory when Travis Kvapil captured the checkered flag in the most recent race at New Hampshire International Speedway (Sept.18) in his No.24 Bang Racing Line-X Tundra. Kvapil qualified third, ran among the leaders throughout the race, and took the lead with 12 laps remaining en route to the checkered flag.

TRAVIS TALKS ABOUT WIN NO.2 -- Travis Kvapil battled darkness in New Hampshire, following a four-hour rain delay, to win his second race of the year. Pit strategy played a big role in the second win of the season for Bang Racing. "We pitted with 100 laps to go -- which was outside our fuel window -- but Eric (Phillips, crew chief) was using a little strategy," said Kvapil, after the race. "We could go 85 laps on fuel, so we knew we'd need a few `yellows' to run to the end. There was one with about 15 laps left (lap 185), and then when that caution came out at the end (lap 199) -- it just `sealed the deal.'"

FIRST TIME WITH TWO -- This is Travis Kvapil's fifth career NCTS victory, but it marks the first year in which he has registered two NCTS wins. In addition to his 2004 victories at New Hampshire and Michigan, the Janesville, Wis.- native previously won NCTS events at Bristol (2003), Memphis (2002) and Texas (2001).

KVAPIL CAPTURED WIN NO.1 -- Toyota earned its first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory when Travis Kvapil captured the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway (July 31).

LAST RACE -- In addition to a Toyota Tundra winning the most recent race on the schedule, two other Toyota drivers finished in the top-five and a total of five Tundra pilots were among the top-10 at the New England track. Johnny Benson was third in the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra and rookie David Reutimann was fifth in the No.17 Darrell Waltrip Motorsports NTN Bearings Tundra. Other Toyota top-10s were recorded by Hank Parker Jr. (9th) and Mike Skinner (10th).

POINTS PACE -- After 18 races, four Toyota drivers are among the top-16 in the NCTS championship standings. Travis Kvapil is sixth in the standings with 2,435 points, 188 points behind first-place Bobby Hamilton andhjust 34 points from fourth-place Matt Crafton. The other Tundra drivers among the leaders in the standings are 10t -place Mike Skinner (2,263 points), 14th-place David Reutimann (2,143 points) and 16th-place Hank Parker Jr. (2,056 points).

ROOKIE RACE -- After 18 races, Toyota driver David Reutimann sits atop the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings with 200 points, 42 more than second-place T. Hines. Toyota's Robert Huffman is fifth (128 points) in the rookie race.

BENSON'S BEST -- Johnny Benson recorded his best finish this year in the No.23 Tundra with a third-place finish in New Hampshire. It was his third top-10 in six series starts, and his best finish since his 4th-place inhhis Toyota Tundra debut at Michigan (July 31). Benson started 26th in New Hampshire and had moved into 14t - place at the halfway point. With 50 laps left he was fourth, before moving up one spot in the final 10 laps.

`LIGHT' COMMENTS -- The race in New Hampshire, which was delayed four hours by rain, was completed in the early evening -- in near darkness. "It's hard to find the `groove' on this track in the daylight," said Johnny Benson, regarding the late race finish. "Trying to find it when it got dark was near impossible."

PARKER HAS FOUR -- Hank Parker Jr.'s ninth-place finish at New Hampshire was his fourth top-ten of the year. He has also finished third (Dover), fifth (St. Louis) and sixth (Bristol).

EIGHT IN 10 FOR DAVID -- David Reutimann has eight top-10 finishes this season following his fifth-place at New Hampshire. It was also his third top-five result this year -- following third-place finishes at both Atlanta and Texas.

BENSON'S BEEN IN VEGAS BEFORE -- Johnny Benson will be making his first NCTS start at Las Vegas, however, he has experience at the track. Earlier this season, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-native started both a NASCAR Cup series race and a Busch series race at Las Vegas. During his career, Benson has made seven NASCAR Cup starts at Las Vegas. In 2001, Benson started on the outside of row one and crossed the finish line fourth.

TRAVIS TAMES VEGAS -- Travis Kvapil has made three NCTS starts at Las Vegas and has registered three top-five finishes. In his first start at the track in 2001, the Janesville, Wis.-driver crossed the finish line third. Then, in both 2002 and 2003, Kvapil recorded fourth-place finishes at the Nevada circuit.

ALL-STAR TUNDRA -- At Las Vegas, Travis Kvapil will be promoting the second annual `NASCAR Toyota All- Star Showdown' on his No.24 Bang Racing Tundra. The event, featuring the best short track racers from around the country, will take place this November (11th-13th) at California's Irwindale Speedway.

NO.42 IS NOW NO.5 -- Mike Skinner, who joined Bill Davis Racing for the NCTS race at Richmond (Sept.9), will be debuting a new number on his Tundra at Las Vegas. Skinner, who has used No.42 since the start of the season, will now be driving the No.5 Toyota Tundra. He will use that number for the remainder of the season.

MORE ON NO.5 -- "I liked the No.42, but I also like the No.5," says Skinner. "I've had a lot of success racing with the No.5. "I won a couple of championships driving cars with the No.5 on them -- a dirt track title in Susanville (Calif.) and a Late Model championship at Caraway (NC) Speedway. So, I've had some success with that number. Hopefully, I'll have that number until the end of my career."

ONE FOR SKINNER -- Mike Skinner has one previous NCTS start at Las Vegas. In 1996, Skinner started fifth and finished seventh in his only NCTS race at the track.

SKINNER AND THE SCHEDULE -- Mike Skinner is looking forward to the race in Las Vegas, as well as the remainder of the 2004 NCTS schedule. "When I look over the rest of the schedule, I get pretty excited," says Skinner, the 1995 NCTS champion. "I like racing at Las Vegas and I like racing at California. There's really no track left on the schedule where I don't enjoy racing."

`HIRE A HERO' IN LAS VEGAS -- Bill Lester will again drive the `Hire a Hero' No.22 Bill Davis Racing Tundra at Las Vegas. He made his debut in the `Hire A Hero' Tundra at Richmond (Sept.9). Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., announced the `Hire a Hero' program in early September. It is designed to assist those who have recently left or are planning to leave military service transfer into the civilian job market. The `Hire a Hero' program will allow the men and women of the various military branches to search a special Web site for job opportunities at Toyota and Lexus dealerships -- and is open to all of the service branches, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. The ` Hire a Hero' Web sites are www.toyota.com/hero and www.lexus.com/hero.

TRACKING TODD IN VEGAS ­ Todd Bodine captured the checkered flag at Las Vegas in the 2001 Busch series race at the track. In addition, the veteran racer captured the pole position for the 2002 NASCAR Cup series race at the track ­ and has one top-five finish ((2001) in three career NASCAR Cup starts at Las Vegas. This will mark Bodine's first NCTS race at Las Vegas.

PARKER'S FIRST POLE ­ Hank Parker Jr. earned his first career NASCAR pole position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the 2001 Busch series race at the track. "I enjoy racing at Las Vegas, not only because I won my first pole position there, but because it's a great place for racing," says Parker Jr. `It's a fast track and I enjoy going there."

FIRST FOR FIVE -- Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine, Robert Huffman, Hank Parker Jr. and David Reutimann will all be making their first NCTS starts at Las Vegas. Benson, Bodine and Parker Jr. have all competed at the track previously in the Cup or Busch series, but never in the Craftsman Truck Series.

DEALING WITH DEALERS -- Both Mike Skinner and Bill Lester will be staying in Las Vegas following the NCTS race to attend Toyota's annual dealer meeting. More than 1,200 Toyota dealers from across the country will attend the meeting. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what Toyota's dealer meeting is all about," says Skinner. "It will be great to represent Toyota's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program at the meeting. I've met quite a few of the dealer in the markets that we race -- and I hope to strengthen those relationships and develop new ones." Skinner and Lester will showcase Toyota's NCTS program at the meeting, sign autographs and meet dealers.

TV TIME ­ Las Vegas 350, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Saturday, Sept.25, 10:00 PM (Eastern), SPEED Channel

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Hank Parker Jr. , Johnny Benson , Matt Crafton , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Robert Huffman , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing