Phoenix: Toyota Motorsports preview

THIS RACE: The race at Phoenix International Raceway will be the 16th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at the Arizona track. There will be nine Toyota Tundras in the field at the one-mile oval -- the penultimate NCTS race of the 2006 ...

THIS RACE: The race at Phoenix International Raceway will be the 16th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at the Arizona track. There will be nine Toyota Tundras in the field at the one-mile oval -- the penultimate NCTS race of the 2006 season.

LAST RACE: In the most recent race of the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series season at Texas Motor Speedway (Nov.3), three Tundra drivers recorded top-10 finishes. Toyota driver Mike Skinner crossed the finish line third, followed by Tundra drivers Jack Sprague (fourth) and David Reutimann (seventh).

TOYOTA TAKES TITLE: Toyota clinched the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer's championship with Mike Skinner's third-place finish at Texas. It marks the first-ever NASCAR manufacturer's title for Toyota. It was also the first time in NCTS history a manufacturer's title was clinched with an overall race finish lower than second-place. Race teams that have utilized the Toyota Tundra this season in the NCTS have been Bill Davis Racing, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, Germain Racing, HT Motorsports, Red Horse Racing and Wyler Racing.

MIKE'S MARKS: In helping Toyota clinch the manufacturer's title at Texas, Mike Skinner established a couple of records. He became the first driver to clinch a manufacturer's title for two different truck makes, and he joined Jack Sprague as one of two Craftsman Truck Series drivers to clinch two manufacturer's championships.

MIKE ON THE MANUFACTURER: "I hoped we contributed a little bit to that manufacturer's championship for Toyota," said Mike Skinner, after the Texas race. "I think it may have been our third-place run tonight that got Toyota the point or two to win the thing. It's so awesome to drive for Toyota and to drive a Tundra- sponsored truck. I've got it made and I love driving my Tundra in the Craftsman Truck Series."

SPRAGUE SPEAKS: "It's sweet that Toyota won the manufacturer's title," said Sprague, following the Texas race. "I'm proud to be a part of the Toyota deal. These Tundras are just unbelievable to drive. I'm having more fun in my career than I ever have had before -- although it's tougher than it's ever been to win -- but I'm still having more fun. When you run well -- and I do in my Tundra -- it makes it really enjoyable."

POINTS PACE: After the first 23 races of the 2006 season, Toyota drivers hold down the top-four positions in the NCTS championship point standings. Todd Bodine continues to sit atop the championship standings with 3,406 points. Trailing Bodine in the standings are second-place Johnny Benson (3,269 points), third-place David Reutimann (3,241 points) and fourth-place Ted Musgrave (3,144 points). In addition, Tundra driver David Starr (3,059 points) holds down the seventh spot in the standings and Jack Sprague (3,027 points) is eighth.

STAYING IN THE STANDINGS: Although battling for the Craftsman Truck Series driver's title, Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson have both been struggling in the past few races. At Texas, despite a 14th-place finish, Bodine managed to extend his lead in the point standings by 51 points over Benson -- who ended up 31st at Texas, after retiring with an engine problem. Bodine now leads Benson by 137 points in the championship standings with two races remaining.

ARE TITLE HOPES ALIVE: Does Johnny Benson still think he can capture the NCTS title? "Probably not," says Benson. "Now, we really have to fight for second. We had a chance to capitalize in Texas -- and we didn't. He (Todd Bodine) tried to give us some points, but we couldn't take any."

STRONG STRETCH: The last two NCTS races of the year feature tracks where Todd Bodine is the defending race-winner. Bodine won last season's NCTS races in Phoenix (Nov.11, 2005) and Homestead (Nov.19, 2005). LAST YEAR HERE: In the most recent NCTS race at Phoenix (Nov.11, 2005), Todd Bodine picked up the victory in the No.30 Germain Racing Tundra, and three other Toyota drivers recorded top-10 finishes. Tundra drivers following Bodine to the Phoenix finish line were Johnny Benson (third), David Reutimann (seventh) and Mike Skinner (ninth).

TODD'S TRIUMPH: In 2005, Todd Bodine passed fellow Tundra pilot Johnny Benson with 41 laps remaining at Phoenix, and then held onto the lead following a red flag and late race restart, en route to the checkered flag. "Our Tundra was just incredible and my guys did a great job in the pits getting us out first," said Bodine, after the race. "We needed `clean' air -- and once we got out front I knew my Tundra was going to be good."

SKINNER STRONG IN AZ: Mike Skinner, a Susanville, Calif.-native, has had a great deal of success in NCTS races at Phoenix. Skinner won the very first NCTS race, which was held at Phoenix in 1995. In that race, Skinner started 16th, led 30 laps, and crossed the finish line first. He also captured the checkered flag in the second NCTS race at Phoenix later that year - - starting third and leading 89 laps en route to `Victory Lane.'

MORE ON MIKE: In addition to his two wins at Phoenix in 1995, Mike Skinner also started a pair of NCTS races in 1996 at the Arizona one-mile oval. In the spring race at Phoenix that season, Skinner qualified on the pole and crossed the finish line second. Later in the year at the fall Phoenix race, Skinner started seventh and finished fourth.

TALKING ABOUT THE TRACK: "I love Phoenix," says Todd Bodine. "I've had some good runs in Phoenix. Before last year's win, I haven't really had the good finishes we deserved. It's a neat race track with two different corners and a `kink' in the back straightaway -- which makes it really unique. It's definitely a driver's track where you need a good set-up and good horsepower. You need the whole `package' to do well in Phoenix."

TOYOTA HAS 24 WINS: Toyota has 24 NCTS wins since the Tundra began competing in the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season. Along with 11 wins this year -- four by Johnny Benson (NH, Nashville, Milwaukee and Michigan), three by Todd Bodine (Texas, St. Louis and Atlanta), two by Jack Sprague (Martinsville and Memphis), one by David Star (Martinsville) and one by Mike Skinner (Las Vegas) -- Toyota had four wins in 2004 and nine wins in 2005.

TOYOTA HAS 30 POLES: Toyota has 30 NCTS poles since the Tundra began competing in the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season. Tundra drivers who have recorded poles include Mike Skinner (16), David Reutimann (six), Bill Lester (two), Jack Sprague (two), Brandon Whitt (two), Todd Bodine (one) and Travis Kvapil (one).

-credit: toyota motorsports

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Brandon Whitt , Travis Kvapil
Teams Germain Racing , Bill Davis Racing , Red Horse Racing