Charlotte: Toyota preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 14, 2003) Three-time NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Champion Robert Huffman will take the green flag this Saturday, May 17, at Lowe's Motor Speedway on top of the drivers' championship standings after two races in the 2003 ...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 14, 2003) Three-time NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Champion Robert Huffman will take the green flag this Saturday, May 17, at Lowe's Motor Speedway on top of the drivers' championship standings after two races in the 2003 season. Among Huffman's main competitors for victory, and the series' lead, will be fellow Toyota racers Jake Hobgood and Brandon Ward.

"I always enjoy racing at Charlotte, and running this year the same night as `The Winston' all-star event will bring a lot of fans out to see our race too," said Huffman, from the Charlotte-area town Claremont, N.C. "Jake was tough to beat last year when we won at Charlotte, and I'm sure he's going to have his Celica running strong this year."

Huffman won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, and he finished fourth at the second event in Savanna, Ga. His two top-five finishes in the No. 37 White House Apple Juice Toyota Celica put him on top of the standings by 24 points. His victory was the 39th of his career, which is second all-time in the Goody's Dash Series.

Defending NASCAR Goody's Dash Series champion Jake Hobgood will make his second start in the No. 64 Germain Toyota Celica this Saturday. He earned the pole position at the last event on the dirt track in Savanna along side Huffman, which gave Toyota its first front- row qualifying sweep in the program's four-year history. A mid-race crash dropped Hobgood down to an 18th-place finish, but he is currently seventh in the drivers' championship after finishing third in Daytona.

"I'm excited to be racing the Germain Toyota Celica this weekend and the rest of the season," said Hobgood, a native of Winnsboro, S.C. "Charlotte is always a fun but tough race."

Brandon Ward, who is currently third overall in the drivers' championship standings, will battle the two champions for victory in the No. 11 Ram Fabrication Toyota Celica. After a strong rookie season in 2002 with seven top-ten finishes, the Winston-Salem, N.C., resident finished fifth in the Daytona opener and eighth in Savanna. While racing a limited 2001 schedule, Ward earned his first career Goody's Dash victory at the legendary Bristol Motor Speedway.

"I'm really happy with the season so far, and I just want to stay consistently good all year," Ward said after testing in Charlotte in early May. "Our test times were quicker than we were in the Charlotte race last year, so I'm feeling really good about the race Saturday. With it being only 50 laps this year, the pit strategy will be a key factor."

Nick Pistone will be making his second start this season in the No. 77 BI-LO Toyota Celica with Weaver Racing. The Charlotte, N.C., resident and grandson of early-NASCAR racer "Tiger" Tom Pistone had a strong rookie campaign last year with four top-10 finishes and a season-high eighth-place finish at Greenville, S.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Pistone, who finished sixth overall in the rookie standings last year, was 26th at Daytona in February.

2003 rookie-of-the-year hopeful Reece Milton will also be making his second start of the season in the No. 75 Food Country/Refrigeration Systems Toyota Celica. The Blountville, Tenn., native ran a partial season in 2002 with a season-best finish of seventh at his home track of Bristol.

The 50-lap NASCAR Goody's Dash EasyCare 100 will run at 6 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 17 just prior to the NASCAR Winston Cup "The Winston" All-Star event. Qualifying will run at 12:15 p.m EST on Friday, May 16.

Toyota made its debut in the NASCAR Goody's Dash series at Daytona in 2000. The 28-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 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 motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Shawna Robinson , Andy Houston , Hut Stricklin , Robert Huffman , Davey Allison