This Week's Race:
NASCAR Busch Series:
Saturday, July 21, Qualifying @ Gateway International Raceway, 4:35 PM (ET)
Saturday, July 21, NASCAR Busch Series 250 @ Gateway International Raceway, 8:30 PM (ET)
Race 21 of 35
ALMOST ALL OFF: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) drivers will enjoy their first off-weekend in 14 weeks, before heading into the final 17-week stretch beginning with next weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two Camry drivers -- Dave Blaney and David Reutimann -- will enjoy their NNCS off-weekend by competing in the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race at Gateway International Raceway.
BLANEY TALKS BUSCH: "It seems a little strange only having the Busch race to focus on this weekend," says Blaney. "It's nice to have an off-weekend from the Cup Series, but I've always been the type of driver that wants to race every chance I get, so I'm happy to head to Gateway this weekend. Gateway has been a good track for me in the past. Hopefully, we can make up a little ground in the points this weekend and try to pick up a win along the way."
HEADING TO THE HALL : "We are going to a Yankees game Thursday, and then we're going on to Cooperstown, NY," says Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 44 UPS Camry. "My son is on an AAU team that starts playing games there next weekend. They play Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday -- and possibly Thursday. I'll be there until I go to Indianapolis. I've never been to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame, so I'm really looking forward to that and spending some time there. It's pretty special for 12-year-old kids to go up there."
ROUND TWO: "Hopefully, we're going to see how much better a team we are because everybody has had some time to work on some things," says Jarrett, about returning to tracks a second time this season. "We are still learning these cars -- the attitude that they want. The engine combination is a little better than what we started the season with -- so that's a good thing. The things that we've been able to learn the first half of the season will show up as we get more competitive."
VISITING VICTORY LANE: Are any of the Toyota teams ready to win a race this year? "You haven't really seen anyone show that much yet," says Jarrett, about the possibility. "Brian (Vickers) has probably shown in a race or two that he's been very competitive, but by the end of the race I think you see that whole new team thing show up -- and they can't make the whole deal go. I don't know if it will happen before the end of the year, but I think you'll see the Toyotas, as a whole, be much more competitive."
HOME SWEET HOME: While most of his fellow competitors may be preparing for a short vacation, Brian Vickers plans to spend some time at home during the off weekend. "This year, I'm going to stay here in the States. Typically, I travel abroad for a couple of weeks. I just have so much going on at home -- I'm probably going to spend a week at home and get some things done around the house. Try to get caught up on a few things," says Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Camry.
BRIAN ON BEING BACK: "It will help a lot -- for us to have a notebook – when we return to these tracks," says Vickers. "As a new team with a new manufacturer -- it was our first time and we had no notes. To be able to go back and have the notes that we have from the previous time will be huge. Some of the tracks we've tested at throughout the season we have data on and that will also be a big help."
TWO WHEELS FOR AJ: "That's the toughest thing about being a Red Bull driver -- the stuff they make you do on your off-weekends," says AJ Allmendinger, with a big smile. "On my off weekend I have to go to a Moto GP race at Laguna Seca for Red Bull -- that's pretty cool. I've wanted to go to that race the last couple years and every year I've had a Champ Car race in Edmonton." Allmendinger will take a few laps in his No. 84 Red Bull Camry during the motorcycle race weekend.
CUP OF CAMRY HIGHLIGHTS: This season, the best finish by a Camry in NEXTEL Cup competition was when Brian Vickers crossed the finish line fifth in the No. 83 Red Bull entry at Lowe's Motor Speedway (May 27). In addition to his fifth-place result at Charlotte, Vickers also recorded the first top-10 for a Camry when he scored a 10th-place finish at California Speedway (Feb. 25). In 2007, Camrys have led a total of 124 laps in NNCS competition. Vickers has led the most laps (84) among the seven Camry regulars, and Blaney has been in front of the field for 35 laps. Jeremy Mayfield (four) and Michael Waltrip (one) have also led laps this year.
HISTORY HERE: Five Toyota Tundras earned top-five finishes in last spring's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Gateway International Raceway, with Todd Bodine capturing the win in his No. 30 Germain Racing Tundra. Ted Musgrave (second), David Reutimann (third), Jack Sprague (fourth) and Johnny Benson (fifth) followed Bodine to the checkered flag. This weekend's NBS race will mark the first time the Camry will race at the three-quarter-mile oval in the shadow of St. Louis.
BUSCH TIME FOR BODINE: Todd Bodine will make his second NBS start of the 2007 season -- and the first NBS start for Germain Racing -- this weekend at Gateway. Bodine will drive the No. 03 GERMAIN Camry fielded by his championship-winning Craftsman Truck Series team. During his career, Bodine has made 316 NBS starts and earned 15 wins. In six career NBS starts at Gateway, Bodine has had a best finish of third-place in 2000.
BODINE & BUSCH: "We've been working on putting together a Busch program for a long time," says Bodine. "I'm glad we're getting on track with our first race at a place where we've had success as a team and I've had success as a driver. The cars today are different versus the way the Busch cars were in 1997. That's something different, but we've got a really good handle on all that with what we've been doing in the truck. Hopefully, winning in our Tundra, and running as well as we have in the truck will help us with the Camry. Getting the first Camry win -- to go with the first Toyota NCTS championship last year -- would put Gateway at the top of the list for Germain Racing and for me, that's for sure."
WHY GATEWAY?: "We chose St. Louis because it's an off-weekend from our trucks," says Mike Hillman, Sr., General Manager for Germain Racing. "We feel we can go there and focus on running competitively and hopefully we have the same results there as we did with our Tundras. We're going to try to run about nine races between now and the end of the year in the Busch Series, but a lot depends on where we are in the Truck Series championship.
The Busch program is intended to make our whole racing program stronger, not weaker, so how many races we run depends on our success and how everything's going with our truck teams."
KNOW THEIR WAY AROUND GATEWAY: Blaney, Reutimann and Jason Leffler have combined for a total of 11 starts at Gateway International Raceway between NBS and NCTS competition. Blaney, driver of the No. 10 Camping World Camry, has made two NBS starts, both resulting in top-10 finishes. Leffler, his Braun Racing teammate and driver of the No. 38 Great Clips Camry, has made four NBS starts at the track with a best result of sixth-place. Reutimann, driver of the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry, has made two NBS starts and three NCTS starts at the raceway.
CAMRY BUSCH BOYS: Following the most recent Busch Series race at Chicagoland Speedway (July 14), two Camry drivers are among the top-five in the championship point standings. Reutimann sits third in the standings, behind points-leader Carl Edwards and 2006 Busch champion Kevin Harvick. Blaney is fourth in the standings and Leffler fell to sixth in the standings following the Chicagoland race.
TOP TUNDRAS: Tundra drivers hold down five of the top-eight spots in the NCTS championship point standings. Following the first 13 races of the year, Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra, sits atop the point standings. Tundra drivers trailing Skinner in the standings are Todd Bodine (fourth), Johnny Benson (sixth), Jack Sprague (seventh) and Ted Musgrave (eighth).
NEW NUMBERS: This season, Tundra drivers have earned seven wins and 11 pole positions. Tundra team members recording wins this year include Skinner -- who won the most recent NCTS race at Kentucky Speedway -- along with events at California, Atlanta and Martinsville. Other Tundra winners include Bodine (Texas), Benson (Milwaukee) and Sprague (Daytona). Tundra drivers who have started from the pole include Skinner (Milwaukee, Dover, Mansfield, Charlotte, Kansas, Martinsville and Atlanta), Bodine (Texas) and Sprague (Daytona). In addition, Brad Kesolowski captured the pole at Memphis substituting for Ted Musgrave and Ryan Mathews earned his first career pole at Kentucky.
HAPPY 50th: Toyota is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the U.S. in 2007 and operates 10 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and assembles approximately half the vehicles it sells in America. In addition, Toyota, its dealers and manufacturing plants employ close to 150,000 individuals in the U.S.
BROADCAST BITS: The NASCAR Busch Series race will be televised on ESPN2, and broadcast on MRN 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 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
Todd Bodine No. 03 GERMAIN Toyota Camry Germain Racing
David Reutimann No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing
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