Talladega: Toyota Motorsports preview

THIS RACE: The John Deere 250 at Talladega Superspeedway will be the first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at the Alabama track. There will be ten Toyota Tundras in the field at the 2.66-mile oval -- the 20th NCTS race of the 2006...

THIS RACE: The John Deere 250 at Talladega Superspeedway will be the first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at the Alabama track. There will be ten Toyota Tundras in the field at the 2.66-mile oval -- the 20th NCTS race of the 2006 season.

LAST RACE: In the most recent race of the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept.23), Tundra driver Mike Skinner captured the checkered flag and two other Toyota drivers registered top-five finishes. Tundra racers crossing the finish line behind race-winner Mike Skinner were Ted Musgrave (second) and Johnny Benson (fourth).

MIKE MAKES MARK IN VEGAS: Mike Skinner, driver of the No.5 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, started from the pole position and led a race-high 114 laps en route to the victory at Las Vegas. Skinner passed fellow Tundra driver Ted Musgrave for the lead on lap 126 (of 146) and led the final 21 circuits en route to `victory lane.' It was the first win of the 2006 season for the Daytona Beach, Fla.-driver, as well as his 30th career NCTS pole position -- including 14 poles driving a Tundra.

SKINNER SPEAKS: "The results were pretty awesome," said Skinner, following the race. "We had a really good truck -- in fact we were so good we quit practice early because I wanted to save laps for the race. I knew if the race stayed green at the end -- and we didn't have a caution flag -- we had a truck that was going to be hard to beat."

SKINNER SPEAKS II: After several close calls to win races earlier this season, Mike Skinner was happy to return to `victory lane.' "It's about time we won a race," said Skinner, after the event. "This team has been strong enough to win races all year. Unfortunately, it's been either the driver messing up or a mechanical problem or a pit stop going wrong or a caution flag coming out. We've dominated so many races this season and have just come up short for one reason or another. This easily could have been our fifth win this year."

POINTS PACE: After the first 19 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 2,911 points. Trailing Bodine in the standings are second-place Johnny Benson (2,820 points), third-place David Reutimann (2,671 points) and fourth-place Ted Musgrave (2,625 points). In addition, Tundra driver David Starr (2,553 points) holds down the sixth spot in the standings.

SECOND CLOSER TO FIRST: His fourth-place finish at Las Vegas allowed Johnny Benson to trim 33 points from Todd Bodine's points lead in the NCTS championship standings. "We're going to keep rolling forward and doing what we can to catch Todd," says Benson. "Our weekend in Las Vegas was tough for us, but we ended up with a pretty decent finish. We were able to capitalize on things in Vegas because Todd had some problems. We also had problems -- just like Todd had problems. But, we did gain some points, even though we really both used a `mulligan' we didn't expect to use."

ENGINE CHASE: Toyota holds onto the top spot in the NCTS manufacturer's championship through the first 19 races of the 2006 season. Toyota has 135 points in the standings, 15 more points than second-place Ford and 41 points ahead of third-place Chevrolet.

TOYOTA HAS 23 WINS: Mike Skinner's victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept.23) was Toyota's 23rd NCTS win since the Tundra began competing in the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season. Along with 10 wins this year -- four by Johnny Benson (New Hampshire, Nashville, Milwaukee and Michigan), three by Todd Bodine (Texas, St. Louis and Atlanta), one by Jack Sprague (Memphis), one by David Star (Martinsville) and one by Skinner (Las Vegas) -- Toyota had four wins in 2004 and nine wins in 2005.

TOYOTA HAS 27 POLES: Mike Skinner's pole position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept.23) was Toyota's 27th NCTS pole 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 (14), David Reutimann (six), Bill Lester (two), Brandon Whitt (two), Todd Bodine (one), Travis Kvapil (one) and Jack Sprague (one).

GETTING USED TO NEW CREW: Rick Gay made his debut as the new crew chief for Ted Musgrave and the No.9 Team ASE Tundra at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Each of us seems to know ahead of time what the other is thinking and each of us has ideas about how to fix the truck," says Musgrave, about his new crew chief. "We make a good match. We trust each other -- he trusts me telling him what's happening with the truck and I trust the adjustments he makes. That's what you need -- communication and trust between the driver and the crew chief."

TALLADEGA TALK: "Everybody is talking about Talladega," says Musgrave. "Although, you just don't know what's going to happen -- it's new and resurfaced. Anybody can hold it wide open there. I think it's going to be like a beehive of wild hornets in a big old nest -- and I'm just going to try to be the litle `Pooh Bear' way in the back -- and t lick up all the honey when there's trouble. When we get to Talladega and the race is over -- I'll be glad it's over."

A.J RETURNS: A.J. Allmendinger will make his second career NCTS start at Talladega Superspeedway in the No.24 Bill Davis Racing Tundra. Allmendinger, who has five Champ Car open-wheel wins this year, finished 13th in his NCTS debut at New Hampshire.

TALLADEGA EXPERIENCE: Several Tundra drivers have experience racing at Talladega. Ted Musgrave (20 starts), Johnny Benson (17 starts), Mike Skinner (15 starts), Todd Bodine (eight starts) and Jack Sprague (one start) have all participated in NASCAR Cup races at Talladega. The best Talladega finish among all the current Tundra drivers was when Mike Skinner was the runner-up in the Spring Cup race in 2000.

MORE TALLADEGA EXPERIENCE: In addition to his eight NASCAR Cup starts at Talladega, Todd Bodine has made nine Busch Series starts at the Alabama track. The Chemung, N.Y.-driver has three top-five results in his nine Busch starts -- including a third (1992) and a pair of fourths (2001 and 2002), along with a pole position (2000).

-credit: toyota

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , A.J. Allmendinger , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Travis Kvapil
Teams Bill Davis Racing