Atlanta: Toyota preview

Huffman and other Celica pilots look to end the season on a winning note in Atlanta. HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 23, 2002) ­ Four-time series champion Robert Huffman looks to end his second season in the Toyota Celica on a winning note when the NASCAR...

Huffman and other Celica pilots look to end the season on a winning note in Atlanta.

HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 23, 2002) ­ Four-time series champion Robert Huffman looks to end his second season in the Toyota Celica on a winning note when the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series runs its final race of 2002 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, Oct. 25.

In his second year piloting the No. 37 White House Apple Juice Toyota Celica, Huffman has been in the championship hunt the entire season after winning the opener at Daytona. He is currently in second place overall in the championship with 1988 points and is also tied for the series lead in victories with three and pole positions with four.

"Unfortunately, it looks like we'll come up a little short for the championship, but it's been a great year," said Huffman, of Claremont, N.C. "This will be an interesting race on the ¼-mile infield track at Atlanta. We tested in early October and the Celica ran great."

Huffman, who is second in all-time NASCAR Goody's Dash career victories with 38 wins, is also in contention for the Gatorade Front Runner Award (tied for second) and the Goody's Headache Powder Consistency Award (fourth).

Brandon Ward, a Mag-Clip Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, is coming off a fourth- place finish at the last race in the Pittsburgh suburb of Smithton, Pa. Ward, from Winston-Salem, N.C., also had his best finish of the year (third) at Bristol in August. He has raced the No. 11 Ram Fabrication Toyota Celica into second-place overall in the rookie standings, just six points from the top. Ward, who won the Bristol race last season while running a limited schedule, is now 10th overall in the championship race.

"I'm anxious to get to the track and one more shot at a win this year," said Ward. "We were among the top four cars during the Atlanta test this month. The tight corners at the ¼-mile track will almost be like running a road course: hard on the brakes and tires."

Wendy Hicks, from Huntsville, Ala., will be racing in her first Goody's Dash race this year with an eye towards a full rookie season in 2003. Prior to racing her No. 73 Clabber Girl Toyota Celica, Hicks was a regular in the Legends Series at Huntsville Speedway. Her racing career began at the Quarter Midget level at the age of five.

"This is definitely the easiest race car I've ever driven," said Hicks after testing her new Clabber Girl Celica. "I got really excited after hearing the Toyota engine rev. I'm ready to start this race."

Another rookie-of-the-year contender, Nick Pistone of Charlotte, N.C., will be racing the No. 77 BI LO/Big Daddy's BBQ Sauce Toyota Celica. He is currently in sixth place in the rookie standings and 16th overall while having only raced in 10 of the 13 events this season.

Qualifying for the Goody's Dash 150 will be on Thursday, Oct. 24, and the race will run after NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying on Friday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m.

Toyota made its debut in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series at the Daytona International Speedway in 2000. Robert Huffman's victory at Kentucky Speedway last season in the Toyota Celica was the first for an overhead-cam, multi-valve engine in NASCAR history. The 27-year-old series is part of the NASCAR ladder system, designed to help promote and develop driver's skills at tracks as varied as Daytona, Charlotte and Bristol. Originally called "Baby Grands," Goody's Dash cars resemble a scaled-down version of a Winston Cup stock car, and each is equipped with a V6 powerplant. Series alumni include Michael Waltrip, Davey Allison, Robert Pressley, Hut Stricklin, Andy Houston and Shawna Robinson.

-toyota-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Shawna Robinson , Andy Houston , Robert Pressley , Robert Huffman , Davey Allison