This Week's Race:
NASCAR Busch Series:
Sunday, March 4, Telcel-Motorola 200 @ Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, 2:00 PM (ET)
SOUTH OF THE BORDER: Sunday's race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez marks the third NASCAR Busch Series visit to the Mexico City road course. The inaugural race in 2005 was NASCAR's first points-paying event held outside of the continental United States.
TOYOTAS TURNING LAPS IN MEXICO: Three Toyota Camrys will race in the Telcel-Motorola 200. Braun Racing will field the No. 38 Great Clips Camry for Jason Leffler and the No. 10 Fan1st.com Camry for Dave Blaney. David Reutimann will drive the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry for Michael Waltip Racing.
'LEFF' AND RIGHT TURNS: Of the three Toyota drivers competing in Mexico City this weekend, only Jason Leffler has previously started a race on the 2.518-mile, eight-turn road course. The Long Beach, Calif., native started 40th and finished 17th in last year's race. "I have a total of three road course races to my credit," says Leffler. "Last year's race in Mexico City and two races at Watkins Glen. I don't have much experience road racing, but it's like anything else -- the more laps you get, the better you get. It's a lot of fun to slide the cars around there and have a good time."
REUTIMANN'S ROAD TO MEXICO: "I don't speak Spanish, I've never raced on a road course and I've only been to Mexico once in my life," says David Reutimann. "I went to Mexico last year just after Christmas for vacation. I've never even tested the Busch car on a road course. I'm going there with an open mind but I'll
have my work cut out for me. I'm looking forward to going there and learning."
BIRTHDAY BOY: David Reutimann will celebrate his birthday while in Mexico City. The Zephyrhills, Fla. native will turn 37 on Friday, March 2.
BLANEY'S BEEN ROAD RACING: With only 15 road course race starts in his NASCAR career, Toyota driver Dave Blaney can hardly be considered a seasoned veteran on the twisty tracks. But, heading into this weekend's Busch Series race in Mexico City, Blaney has five times more experience on road courses than the other two Toyota drivers -- Jason Leffler and David Reutimann -- combined. Among Blaney's 15 road course starts, 13 have come in NEXTEL Cup competition and two have come in the Busch Series. He has one top-10 finish on a road course, an eighth-place run in the Busch race at Watkins Glen in 1999.
NO HABLA ESPANOL: Among the three Toyota drivers competing Mexico City, only Dave Blaney has admitted to having taken a Spanish class while going through school. However, that class fell short of making Blaney bilingual. "I took one Spanish class in high school," says Blaney. "I think it was in ninth grade, and I think I passed. But, I can't remember any of it."
HISTORY LESSON: A TRD-built Lexus-powered engine was victorious at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 2006. Scott Pruett and Mexico City native Luis Diaz scored a flag-to-flag win at the circuit in last year's Grand-Am sports car race at the road course. The Grand Am Daytona Prototypes will again pair with the Busch Series in Mexico City this weekend. A Toyota-powered open wheel car also visited victory lane at the Mexico City circuit in 2002 when Kenny Brack won a Champ Car race.
TRAVEL 'NUTS AND BOLTS': The planning that goes into putting on a race in another country is never-ending. For the team hauler drivers, listing the truck's inventory -- down to the last nut and bolt -- is imperative. The 800-mile caravan from Laredo, Texas can be daunting. "To get to the border and through customs, and to have all the paperwork filled out is a nightmare," says Jeff Gilbert, who will drive the No. 99 Michael Waltrip Racing hauler to Mexico City. "I have a notebook full of paperwork that needs to be filled out, from a passport copy for every person going into the country to a list of everything on the truck, down to the last screw."
LEADING LAPS: Toyotas have led 18 laps in the first two (California and Daytona) Busch Series races of the season, and have started on the front row in each event. In the season-opener at Daytona, Jason Leffler started on the outside of row one and led the first two laps of the race. At California Speedway, Dave Blaney started on the pole and led the first 16 laps of the race. Blaney has recorded the best finish by a Camry driver in the Busch Series in the first two races with a second-place result at Daytona.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
VICKERS' VINDICATION: Despite missing the season-opening Daytona 500, Team Red Bull's Brian Vickers bounced back at California Speedway and recorded Toyota's first top-10 finish in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition. Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Camry, ran among the leaders throughout the race and registered a 10th-place finish.
BRIAN'S BATTLE AT CALIFORNIA: Although he finished 10th at California Speedway, Brian Vickers thought he had a shot at a better finish. "When we got into the top-five, I felt like we could be even better," said Vickers, following the race. "We tried some things on the car and it went in the wrong direction. We got it fixed back at the end of the race and we just ran out of time to improve our track position. When you get up there with the leaders -- you want more -- you always want a little bit more, but sometimes you have to step back and look at circumstances."
TIP OF THE HAT TO TOYOTA: "I think this finish means a lot for Toyota," said Team Red Bull's Brian Vickers, after the California race. "Everybody knows we have work to do," says Vickers. "We didn't win the race, but we had a good, solid run. I'm really proud of everyone at Toyota and TRD. They've been a lot of help with this Red Bull program, but there's still room for improvement -- there's always room for improvement."
DAVE DID GOOD -- IN FIRST HALF: Although Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 22 CAT Camry, finished 39th at California, he had a strong run during the first half of the race. Blaney had his Bill Davis Racing Toyota running among the leaders during the first half of the race, before he retired on lap 112 of the 250-lap event. "We had some kind of mechanical problem," said Blaney, after the race. "Although we are disappointed, we are encouraged by the performance -- the car was really fast. It's a shame because we had a top-10 car -- that's where it had been running all day. We were fourth, fifth or sixth a lot of the time."
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
CALIFORNIA HOMECOMING: Mike Skinner gave Toyota its second consecutive win in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) at California Speedway. Skinner, who was born in Ontario, Calif., was the first driver from the 'Golden State' to win a NCTS race at the two-mile superspeedway. The win was the 20th of Skinner's career and the 27th victory for a Tundra in the Craftsman Truck Series.
MORE ABOUT MIKE: "I was born just down the street, so it's pretty cool to win in my own backyard," said Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 5 Bill Davis Racing Tundra. "It was a great night for our Tundra. We always qualify good at California, but we never run good in the race. Our Tundra wasn't perfect, but it drove all night with a good old conventional set-up."
HAVING HOMER ALONG: Maybe some of Mike Skinner's California victory can be attributed to a 'good luck charm' that was added to his Tundra on race morning. A Bill Davis Racing crew member won a Homer Simpson doll in an arcade game before breakfast at a local restaurant. Skinner's crew fitted the cartoon character with a helmet and positioned him next to Skinner's driving seat. Homer hung on for Skinner's fourth career win in a Tundra.
JACK IS BACK: The 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season picked up right where the 2006 campaign left off -- with a Toyota Tundra driver on top. Jack Sprague, driver of the No. 60 Con-way Freight Tundra, scored a season-opening victory at Daytona after a last turn, last lap push from fellow Tundra driver Johnny Benson. It was Sprague's first victory at Daytona in six attempts. In addition, Sprague won the race from the pole -- the 32nd time a Tundra has started first in an NCTS race.
HAPPY 50TH: Toyota is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the U.S. in 2007. Toyota and its dealers employ about 150,000 workers in the U.S. Toyota operates 10 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and builds approximately half the vehicles it sells here. The location of an 11th facility was recently announced. The manufacturing facility, scheduled to open in 2010, will be located in Blue Springs, Miss and build Toyota Highlanders.
BROADCAST BITS: The Telcel-Motorola 200 will be televised on ESPN2 at 2:00 PM (ET) on Sunday, March 4, and broadcast on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128).
IMAGES INFORMATION: Members of media can access Toyota photography at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.
2007 TOYOTA DRIVER/TEAM ROSTER
AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIQUEZ, MEXICO CITY, MARCH 2-4, 2007
NASCAR Busch Series Driver Car Team Dave Blaney No. 10 Fan1st.com Toyota Camry Braun Racing Jason Leffler No. 38 Great Clips Toyota Camry Braun Racing David Reutimann No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing
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