This Week's Races:
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series:
Friday, May 18, Qualifying for NEXTEL Open @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, 6:10 PM (ET)
Friday, May 18, Qualifying for NEXTEL All-Star Challenge @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, 7:15 PM (ET)
Saturday, May 19, NEXTEL Open @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, 7:30 PM (ET)
Saturday, May 19, NEXTEL All-Star Challenge @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, 9:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series:
Friday, May 18, Qualifying @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, 4:35 PM (ET)
Friday, May 18, Quaker Steak & Lube 200 @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, 9:00 PM (ET)
PACING THE PACK: A Toyota will be pacing the field in all of the NASCAR races throughout the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and Coca-Cola 600 weekends. Toyota is the ‘Official Vehicle' of Lowe's Motor Speedway. In addition to the May races, Toyotas will also pace the field when the series returns in October.
TWO TOYOTA ALL-STARS: Two Toyota Camry drivers will compete in Saturday's NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. Brian Vickers will pilot his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry in his third career All-Star appearance. Vickers earned his way into the race by winning the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway (2006). Dale Jarrett will drive his No. 44 UPS Camry in his 16th career All-Star appearance by virtue of his status as a past Cup Series champion (1999).
VIEW FROM VICKERS: "The All-Star race is just a fun race, like the Bud Shootout" says Vickers. "It's just a dash for cash with no points and you have to go as hard as you can go. I'm pretty excited to be one of the first Toyotas to get to compete in the All-Star race and I'm really looking forward to getting out there and mixing it up with everybody."
OPEN ROUTE TO CHALLENGE: Michael Waltrip has made 14 starts in the All-Star Challenge and made his way to victory lane in this premier event in 1996. Waltrip was also victorious in the Open twice in his career, with back-to-back wins in 1991 and 1992. This year, Waltrip will have to race his way into the All-Star Challenge in his No. 55 NAPA Camry. Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 36 360 OTC Camry, has made seven starts in the All-Star event and made his way to victory lane in the Open twice (2002, 1998) -- transferring him into the main event.
ROOKIES TO RUN: Camry drivers AJ Allmendinger (No. 84 Red Bull Camry) and David Reutimann (No. 00 Domino's/Burger King® Camry) will both make their first career starts in the NEXTEL Open prior to the All-Star Challenge. The Open will also mark Allmendinger's first competitive start in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) competition at the speedway. Reutimann has competed at Lowe's in five races throughout his career with one start in NNCS (2005), one start in the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) (2006), and three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) starts (2004-2006).
AJ ON OPEN: "I had a good test at Charlotte, so I think I have a pretty good chance of running up front when we all wreck," says a chuckling Allmendinger. "The Open, from what I've seen, doesn't wreck quite as much because there's no money on the line -- they're all just racing to get into the money race. Seriously, I really don't know what to expect, but I'm excited to get the chance to be a part of it. If we could somehow get into the All Star race and win the Open or be one of the top-two guys -- that would be huge."
AJ EYES ALL-STAR RACE: "It's always been one of my favorite races to watch on TV because there's such stupid chaos with guys acting completely crazy for a million dollars," says Allmendinger. "And I'm probably one of the biggest idiots, so I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be cool and I think after the test, we at least have a chance to be competitive. It's a chance for me to get more laps on the race track before I go out there and do it for real in the 600."
NOT CLOSE ENOUGH: Dave Blaney has competed in seven Open races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but has never made his way into the transfer spot for the main event. Blaney earned the pole position in 2004 and finished as high as second in 2003 -- unfortunately only one car transferred to the main event that season. Blaney's No. 22 Caterpillar Camry has made the most NNCS starts for Toyota this season with 10 starts.
CAN DAVE DO IT: "At least its one weekend that I don't have to worry about qualifying for the race," says Blaney. "The Open is a crazy race and I've come close to getting into the All-Star race a couple times, but never made the cut. It would be pretty cool to get in and compete for a million dollars -- maybe we can get ourselves a spot in the All-Star this time around."
LOWE'S TESTING: All three Toyota NNCS teams participated in a two-day test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 7 and 8 with a Camry from each team posting a time in the top-10 on the final day. Mayfield placed his Bill Davis Racing Camry on the top of the speed chart during the afternoon session on the second day and Vickers had his Team Red Bull Camry seventh on day two. Reutimann was the third Toyota driver among the top-10, placing his Michael Waltrip Racing Camry eighth.
TRD TESTING TALK: "All of our teams have made a lot of progress since the beginning of the year and like most NASCAR open tests this season, from the first day to the second day -- we've made huge gains," says Andy Graves, Senior Program Manager at TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development). "The difference is having a notebook -- we have to look at things and gain from things we are trying out on the race track. Time is the biggest element that we're missing, but we're really proud of all of our teams. We just have to keep making progress each and everyday."
WELCOME TO RACEWORLD: Michael Waltrip Racing's ‘Raceworld USA' will open to the public on Wed., May 16, in time for race weeks at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The 140,000 square-foot facility encompasses more than 11 acres and houses the world's first interactive fan destination race shop accessible to the public. The facility is located off I-77 at exit 28 in Cornelius, N.C.
PIT CREW CHAMPS: Two members of the Michael Waltrip Racing team were part of last season's championship pit crew in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge won by the No. 1 team of Martin Truex. Greg Osbourne served as the rear tire changer and now handles car chief duties on the No. 44 UPS Camry and Bob Tracey served as the fuel man on the team and now handles transportation at MWR.
NEW TOYOTA TEAM: Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports will field two Camrys at the NBS race (May 26) at Lowe's Motor Speedway with drivers Bobby Santos (No. 92 Camry) and 1994 NBS Champion, David Green (No. 91 Camry). Both drivers took part in the NASCAR open test session at the speedway and team co-owner Eddie D'Hondt is excited about running Toyotas. "The strength of Toyota and everything they've done has been successful," says D'Hondt. "For our company, we felt like the avenue with Toyota would get us where we needed to go in the quickest time frame. The thing that we've been impressed with right off the bat has been the sharing of resources and those that are available to us are pretty strong. I've been involved with other manufacturers for a long time and I've never seen anything like this before."
TOYOTA TIME FOR AWESOME BILL: Bill Elliott, the 1988 Cup Series champion, will be making his first start of the 2007 NBS season at Lowe's Motor Speedway driving the No. 32 Seymour Paints Camry for Braun Racing. Elliott participated in the recent NASCAR open test session and commented on his first laps in the Camry. "Toyota's worked hard and they've done very well in the truck series," says Elliott. "They've put their stuff together for Cup and Busch this season and that's a tough road. I think Toyota has run well especially on the Busch side. This will give me the opportunity to run one and see what it's like -- so far I've been very pleased with the running of the car; we just need to keep working on the handling of the car."
TOUGH TIME FOR TUNDRAS: Toyota Tundras have made three starts at Lowe's Motor Speedway in NCTS events, but have yet to earn a win. Mike Skinner has earned two poles (2005 and 2006) and Tundra drivers have earned a total of three top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes at the speedway with two of the top-five finishes coming in last year's race.
GERMAIN TWO, PLUS ONE: Germain Racing will field a third Tundra at Lowe's Motor Speedway as Justin Hobgood will pilot the No. 03 Germain Toyota Tundra. Hobgood has made three career NCTS starts for Germain with his best start of eighth coming at Richmond (2005) and his best finish of 20th coming at Phoenix (2005).
TRACKING TRUCK TESTING: Mike Skinner turned the fastest laps of the recent two-day NASCAR test session (May 10 and 11) at Lowe's Motor Speedway in his Bill Davis Racing Tundra. Even with those fast laps, Skinner doesn't feel like he'll be a threat for his third career NCTS pole at Lowe's. "I honestly don't think that we are pole material," Skinner says. "We have not made one qualifying run; we've been totally in race runs, and I don't think our truck is a threat for the pole. But, I think it's definitely a top-five truck for the race."
TUNDRAS ON TOP: Tundra drivers hold five of the top-seven spots in the NCTS championship point standings. After five races, Mike Skinner continues to sit atop the point standings. Tundra drivers trailing Skinner in the standings are Todd Bodine (second), Jack Sprague (fifth), Ted Musgrave (sixth) and Johnny Benson (seventh).
TEACHING WITH TRUCKS: Two high-achieving students from the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC) in Broward County, Florida will be on hand at Lowe's this Friday to shadow a crew member. The No. 5 Bill Davis Racing team and the No. 30 Germain Racing team are participating in the program. The students will experience a unique behind-the-scenes look at the racing industry and participate in the preparations leading up to the evening event. The non-profit YATC, started by Southeast Toyota's founder Jim Moran in 1984, was developed to train and educate at-risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, academic remediation, job readiness and life management skills. The goal of this program is to prepare young adults who are at a disadvantage in their lives to become self-sufficient, productive citizens.
CAMRYS AT KENTUCKY: Bobby Santos earned his career-best ARCA finish of third when he competed at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday (May 12) night. Santos started in the fourth position in his Bill Davis Trucking Camry. Ken Butler III also piloted a Camry at Kentucky finishing in the 31st position in his ESR Development Team – NAPA Camry after starting second.
HAPPY 50TH: Toyota is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the U.S. in 2007. Toyota and its dealers employ about 145,000 workers in the U.S. Toyota operates 11 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and assembles approximately half the vehicles it sells here.
BROADCAST BITS: The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race will be televised on SPEED 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 Craftsman Truck Series race will be televised on SPEED, and broadcast on PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 128).
BACK STORY: Background information on Toyota's motorsports programs and the manufacturer's NASCAR program is available at www.toyotamotorsports.com.
IMAGES INFORMATION: Members of the media can access Toyota photography by registering at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.
2007 TOYOTA DRIVER/TEAM ROSTER
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 / Burger King® Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing Michael Waltrip No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing AJ Allmendinger No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry Team Red Bull Brian Vickers No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry Team Red Bull NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Drive Car Team Johnny Benson No. 23 Exide Toyota Tundra Bill Davis Racing Mike Skinner No. 5 Toyota Tundra Bill Davis Racing Tyler Walker No. 36 360 OTC Toyota Tundra Bill Davis Racing AJ Allmendinger No. 00 Aaron's Lucky Dog Toyota Tundra Darrell Waltrip Racing Justin Hobgood No. 03 Southeast Toyota Dealers Toyota Tundra Germain Racing Todd Bodine No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra Germain Racing Ted Musgrave No. 9 Team ASE Toyota Tundra Germain Racing Terry Cook No. 59 HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra HT Motorsports Aaron Fike No. 1 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra Red Horse Racing Jack Sprague No. 60 Con-Way Freight Toyota Tundra Wyler Racing
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