Richmond: Toyota preview

THIS RACE The Kroger 200 will mark the 10th race at Richmond International Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). The NCTS first visited Richmond in 1995. LAST RACE -- In the most recent race on the NCTS schedule at Bristol Motor...

THIS RACE The Kroger 200 will mark the 10th race at Richmond International Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). The NCTS first visited Richmond in 1995.

LAST RACE -- In the most recent race on the NCTS schedule at Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug.25), five Tundras finished in the top-15. Hank Parker Jr., driving the No.21 Innovative Motorsports AirVest Tundra, led the Toyota drivers to the checkered flag with a 6th-placeh finish. Following Parker Jr. to the finish line were Travis Kvapil (8th), David Reutimann (11th), Johnny Benson (13t ) and Bill Lester (14th).

ROOKIE RACE -- After 16 NCTS races, Toyota driver David Reutimann is 13th in the championship standings (1,915 points) and sits atop the Rookie-of-the-Year standings with 174 points, 23 more than second-place Tracey Hines.

TOYOTA ADDS TUNDRA TEAM -- A newly created NCTS team, Germain/Arnold Racing will make its series debut in the Kroger 200 at Richmond. The team will field and sponsor Todd Bodine in the No.30 Toyota Tundra. Germain/Arnold Racing is a new participant in Toyota Racing Development's (TRD) engine lease program. The team will lease Toyota engines, and TRD will provide engineering and at-track technical support. "We've been in discussions with Bob Germain and Don Arnold since we began interviewing teams in early 2003," said Pat Wall, vice president and manager of Toyota's NCTS program. "We're pleased to welcome this new partnership into our Toyota Motorsports family."

TODD IN A TRUCK -- Although Germain/Arnold Racing will be making their NCTS debut at Richmond, Todd Bodine does have some experience racing in the Craftsman Truck series. Earlier this season, he made two NCTS starts at Kansas (15th) and Charlotte (20th). In addition, in 1995 Bodine made five NCTS starts, qualifying for races at Topeka, Richmond, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro and Mesa Marin. That season he recorded one top-five and five top-10 finishes, including a sixth-place at Richmond.

TODD TESTS TUNDRA -- Germain/Arnold Racing recently completed a two-day test at Chicagoland Speedway (Aug.30-31). "The Tundra handled like a dream," said Bodine, after the test. "I was able to keep my truck at full throttle completely around the track." Bob Germain was also excited about the team's performance during the test. "I'm really proud of the team and what they've accomplished in such a short period of time," he said. "Everyone on the team has worked extremely hard and they deserve a lot of credit."

THREE FOR FOUR -- Johnny Benson has madeh four starts in the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra and has recorded three top-15 finishes. Along with his 13t -place finish in the most recent race at Bristol, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-native was sixth at Nashville and fourth at Michigan International Speedway (July 31). Benson's other start was at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

MORE TESTING TALK -- Johnny Benson tested the No.23 Tundra at Chicagoland Speedway the week (Aug.30-31) after the Bristol race. "This test was a chance for Greg (Ely, crew chief) and myself to get to know each other better, and to work on making my Tundra the way I like it -- especially in the center of the corner," says Benson. "We didn't go to Chicagoland to be blazing fast. It was more a chance to work on how the truck handles and how the truck reacts to changes. It was a very productive test for us and will really help us at all the tracks the rest of the year."

DAVID'S DEBUT -- David Reutimann has never started at NCTS race at Richmond International Raceway. However, he has made a NASCAR Busch Series start at the Virginia track, finishing 16th in his NASCAR debut in 2002. "It was my first shot to do anything at that level." said Reutimann. "We had one car and one motor. That's pretty much it. We showed up and I tiptoed in practice because I didn't want to wreck anything. There wasn't a backup. I felt like it was my one shot to make something happen or it wasn't going to happen. I didn't sleep much and I stayed sick most of the day."

ALL ABOUT THE ALL-STAR EVENT -- This November (11th-13th), the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Challenge will take place at California's Irwindale Speedway. "That's one of the neatest things that I like about Toyota is they sponsor the All-Star Showdown," says Reutimann. "They give guys, at a touring series level, a chance to race for a lot of money, which they don't normally get to do. Plus the drivers are getting additional exposure with live national TV coverage. I think that's one of my favorite things that Toyota does because a couple of I was one of those guys a couple years ago."

HANK ROLLS AT RIR -- Hank Parker Jr. is another Toyota driver who has never started a NCTS race at Richmond. Parker Jr. has made several NASCAR Busch Series starts at Richmond. In 2002, he finished sixth and seventh in the two Busch events. "I love short track racing and I love racing at Richmond," says Parker Jr. "You're able to run two wide and side-by-by-side at Richmond, which makes for some great racing."

RETURN OF "SMOKEY" -- At Richmond, Parker Jr. will again be behind the steering wheel of his favorite No.21 AirVest Tundra, the one nicknamed "Smokey." The Tundra received that nickname afterdcatching on fire in Milwaukee. While racing "Smokey," Parker Jr. has recorded top-10 finishes at Dover (3r ), St. Louis (5th) and the most recent race at Bristol (6th).

PARKER FAMILY PRODUCTIVE IN RICMOND -- The Parker family has had some success in the city of Richmond. "It would be really be sweet to be able to win the NCTS race at Richmond because my Dad won a big fishing event there," says Parker Jr. In 1989, Hank Parker won the Bassmasters Classic at the James River in Richmond.

LESTER HAS TWO -- Bill Lester has made NCTS starts at Richmond in 2002 and 2003.

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.

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 career NCTS pole position, and Toyota's inaugural pole.

TV TIME -- Kroger 200, Richmond International Raceway, Thursday, Sept.9, 8:30 PM (Eastern), SPEED Channel


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Hank Parker Jr. , Johnny Benson , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing , Toyota Racing