This Week's Races:
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series:
Friday, March 9, Qualifying @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), 3:10 PM (PT)
Sunday, March 11, UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 @ LVMS, 1:30 PM (PT)
NASCAR Busch Series:
Friday, March 9, Qualifying @ LVMS, 5:05 PM (PT)
Saturday, March 10, Sam's Town 300 @ LVMS, 12:00 PM (PT)
VIVA LAS VEGAS: In three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Toyota has claimed three consecutive poles and two race wins. Tundra driver Mike Skinner has swept the pole position the last three years at the desert track (2004-2006) and recorded a victory on the track's new configuration in 2006. Todd Bodine also registered a victory at the track in his Tundra in 2005.
TOP-10 FOR TOYOTA: Despite missing the Daytona season-opener, Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, had a strong debut at California Speedway. He ran among the race leaders throughout the 500-mile race and crossed the finish line 10th -- Toyota's first top-10 in the series. "We got into the top five and I felt like we could be even better," said Vickers, after the race. "You get up there and you want more, you always want a little bit more, but you have to step back and look at circumstances. We didn't have any problems with the car. We learned a lot about the set-up and what we can do moving forward. I think all in all, it was a great run. To come out of it with a top-10 -- I don't think it could have been any better."
TOP-10 TAKE: "I think this finish means a lot for Toyota," explained Brian Vickers. "Everybody knows we have work to do. We didn't win the race, but we did have a good solid run. To be a new team in such a competitive series and come into our first race and get a top-10 -- I'm so proud of everyone. We got a top-10, now we want a top-five. We have to maintain our goals. I think our goal is to go to Las Vegas and focus on making the race. Until we get in the top-35 (in points), that has to be our goal – we can't forget that."
NEW CHIEF FOR 36: When the No. 36 360 OTC Camry rolls into Las Vegas this weekend, Bill Davis Racing's competition director Tommy Baldwin Jr., will also wear the hat of interim crew chief for Jeremy Mayfield's team. Baldwin's main priority will continue to be serving as the competition director for all of Bill Davis Racing's NEXTEL Cup teams and assuring the team's growth as an organization.
BILL ON BALDWIN: Tommy Baldwin Jr. will act as crew chief for Bill Davis Racing No. 36 360 OTC Camry only until a permanent replacement is found. "We're fortunate to have someone like Tommy, with his record as a crew chief and his abilities as a team leader, available within our organization in situations like these," stated team owner Bill Davis. Derrick Finley had served as Jeremy Mayfield's crew chief for the first two races of the 2007 season. "Derrick has been an integral part of the Bill Davis Racing family for several years and will remain with us serving in a different role," added Bill Davis. "Obviously, the 360 OTC team has struggled in the early stages of the season and we felt it would be in the best interest of the team and our sponsors to make the change."
SEEING THE SURFACE: Since the last time NASCAR's elite competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the desert track has redesigned its track surface by adding 20-degrees of banking. Only two Toyota drivers – Jeremy Mayfield and David Reutimann -- expected to compete this weekend have experienced the new track surface in race conditions. Both Mayfield and Reutimann, competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race last September. In that race, Tundra driver Mike Skinner captured the pole, led the most laps and won the race.
SPEAKING ABOUT THE SURFACE: During pre-season testing at LVMS in January, every Toyota NEXTEL Cup team tried out their equipment on the new surface. Here's what two-time Las Vegas pole sitter (1998 and 2001) Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 44 UPS Camry had to say about the new Las Vegas surface: "Everything is good. There are a few bumps here and there but that is just what you find at a race track. You either learn to negotiate around those or work on your car to maneuver over them and it is extremely fast. We already have multiple grooves out there and that is a really good thing. It should be very beneficial to good racing when we come back."
WALTRIP'S VEGAS VIEW: Dale Jarrett's teammate and team owner Michael Waltrip also had some positive comments on the new Las Vegas surface. "I like it a lot," says Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA Camry. "I think the thing I like most about it is the fact that here we are already able to run up high right off the bat. Every track that they built in the 90's there, or 2000, whenever tracks like Chicago came online, they had a bad rap for being not such good racing. This track is a whole lot like those tracks with the exception of the banking in such that right off the bat we are able to run in two or three different lines. That makes for good racing."
MORE FROM MIKE: "Las Vegas is really fast, obviously, but I don't know why people complain about that, we are race car drivers," adds Waltrip. "The cars just go fast, it is not the track's fault, and it would be easier to slow down the cars than go to a race track that is not fun for the fans to watch."
ALL HAIL NEVADA: Two crew members from Toyota teams call the sagebrush state – named for the state's official flower, home. Kenny Dixon, the tire specialist for the NNCS No. 36 360 OTC Camry, heads home to Las Vegas this weekend. Dixon, who has been with Bill Davis Racing for the past two seasons, is a Las Vegas native who now resides in Mooresville, N.C. Dixon, 54, worked with Brendan Gaughan in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and made the move to N.C. with Gaughan before beginning his tenure at BDR. Craig Wadsworth, catch can and transport driver for the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry is originally from Reno.
BACK FROM MEXICO: Three Toyota Camrys competed in the NASCAR Busch Series Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday. Braun Racing fielded two Toyotas for Blaney (No. 10 Camping World Camry) and Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Camry). Michael Waltrip Racing had one car for David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry). All three Toyota Camrys finished in the top-13 positions in the in Mexico City event.
CAMRYS OUT FRONT: Since the Toyota Camrys debut at Daytona last month, America's No. 1 selling car has experienced a solid run in the NASCAR Busch Series. Second was the key term in the season opener at Daytona with Jason Leffler qualifying on the outside of row one and Dave Blaney finishing second in the 300-mile event. In California, Blaney gave the Camry its first competitive Busch pole and followed that up with a 10th-place finish. Leffler's sixth-place finish in Mexico made it three races in a row that a Camry finished in the top-10 in the Busch Series. Additionally, Blaney's 13th-place finish in Mexico has him and his Toyota Camry sitting third in series point standings with fellow Camry drivers David Reutimann in eighth and Leffler in 12th.
DOUBLE DUTY: Two Toyota drivers will be pulling ‘double duty' in Las Vegas. Dave Blaney and David Reutimann will compete in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series races.
WINGS AND THINGS: Team Red Bull driver AJ Allmendinger and the entire NEXTEL Cup paddock were on hand for the Car of Tomorrow test last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. The rookie driver found comfort in the new car's aerodynamics. "My only comment about the Car of Tomorrow is that it has a wing on it and that's what I'm used to so I think it's pretty cool," says Allmendinger. "It's only going to help us because we are obviously 20-25 years of experience behind a lot of these teams and now with this, we're still going to be behind because a lot of these strong teams have the people and the resources to build cars and go testing. But at least I think we'll shorten that gap up a little bit."
TOMORROW BECOMES TODAY: Later this month, the Car of Tomorrow will become the car of today when it debuts at Bristol. Program manager for Toyota's NEXTEL Cup program, Andy Graves says the new car will help even the playing field for Toyota in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition. "I think the new car does help, you don't have the big, thick notebooks that you are racing against with the bigger organizations with the current car," he says. "But at the same time, we have a lot on our plate and a lot to do. We're trying to spread our resources to do everything in the first year and that makes it a little bit harder as well. We're definitely looking forward to the Car of Tomorrow races and it's going to be interesting having the first race at Bristol."
RED BULL, PLEASE: This weekend Red Bull debuts the new Red Bull Energy Station, a two-story, 5,000 sq. ft. metal structure that hosts up to 150 Red Bull guests and features a bar, furniture, flat screens and a DJ booth. A celebrity DJ is scheduled for race day (Sunday) morning. The location of the Red Bull Energy Station at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be outside turn three looking into the track.
AVIATION ANTICS: As race time approaches for both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events, be sure to turn your attention to the sky. The Red Bull Air Force Skydiving team jumps prior to the start of Saturday's race and will perform their signature "swooping" landing maneuver that has the national champion skydivers approaching at a high rate of speed for a precision landing. On Sunday, America's only aerobatic helicopter, the Red Bull BO-105 CBS piloted by Chuck Aaron will perform loops, rolls, half-Cuban eights and split-s maneuvers behind the backstretch prior to the start of the NEXTEL Cup 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 assembles approximately half the vehicles it sells here.
FORTUNE FACT: This week Fortune released its 25th annual rankings of America's most admired companies -- naming Toyota third on the prestigious list. To create the top 20 for this year's rankings, Fortune asked 3,322 executives, directors, and securities analysts to select the 10 companies they admire most. Fortune says, "Toyota has become America's best automaker. Its Camry has been the best-selling car in the U.S. since 2002, and the Lexus LS 430 has been the leading luxury-car brand for seven straight years. The company's long-term strategy is as green as anyone's. Sales of the Prius, which runs on a gas-electric hybrid engine, passed 100,000 units in 2006."
BROADCAST BITS: The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race will be televised on FOX and broadcast on PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128). NEXTEL Cup qualifying will be televised on SPEED, and broadcast on PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128). The NASCAR Busch Series race will be televised on ABC, and broadcast on PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128).
BACK STORY: Background information is available on Toyota Motorsports and its NASCAR program at www.toyotamotorsports.com.
IMAGES INFORMATION: Members of media can access Toyota images at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.
2007 TOYOTA DRIVER/TEAM ROSTER LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, MARCH 9-11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver Car Team Dave Blaney No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry Bill Davis Racing Jeremy Mayfield No. 36 360 OTC Toyota Camry Bill Davis Racing Dale Jarrett No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing David Reutimann No. 00 Domino's Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing Michael Waltrip No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing Brian Vickers No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry Team Red Bull AJ Allmendinger No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry Team Red Bull NASCAR Busch Series Driver Car Team Dave Blaney No. 10 Camping World 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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