Toyota NASCAR Notes & Quotes - Week of March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008
Toyota NASCAR Notes & Quotes
Week of March 24, 2008

Upcoming Races:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) @ Martinsville Speedway:
Friday, March 28, Qualifying, 3:40 PM (ET) -- SPEED, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Sunday, March 30, Race start @ 2:00 PM (ET) -- FOX-TV, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Race 6 of 36

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) @ Martinsville Speedway:
Saturday, March 29, Qualifying, 10:10 AM (ET) -- SPEED, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Saturday, March 29, Race start @ 3:00 PM (ET) -- FOX-TV, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Race 4 of 25

HISTORY HERE: This weekend will be the third trip to Martinsville Speedway for Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). Five Camry drivers competed in the NSCS spring race at Martinsville a year ago -- Dale Jarrett (28th), David Reutimann (33rd), Dave Blaney (37th), AJ Allmendinger (38th) and Jeremy Mayfield (40th). Five Camry drivers also competed in the 2007 NSCS fall race at Martinsville -- Reutimann (17th), Michael Waltrip (18th), Jarrett (30th), Allmendinger (35th) and Blaney (36th).

MORE HISTORY HERE: Toyota Tundra drivers have won the last four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) races at Martinsville, including Mike Skinner taking the checkered flag at both 2007 events (3-31-07 and 10-20-07) in his No. 5 Bill Davis Racing Tundra. Other Tundra race-winners include David Starr (4-1-06) from the spring race and Jack Sprague (10-21-06) in the fall. Skinner's Martinsville win last fall clinched the NCTS manufacturer's championship for Toyota for the second consecutive season. Tundra drivers have also earned the pole at Martinsville in each of the past three races at the half-mile circuit. Sprague earned the pole for the fall races in 2006 and 2007, and Skinner earned the pole in the spring of 2007.

MCDOWELL MAKES FIRST ONE: Michael McDowell will make his first career NSCS start for Michael Waltrip Racing at Martinsville. McDowell will drive the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry, as Reutimann gets behind the wheel of the No. 44 UPS Camry. "By no means have I underestimated the challenges ahead of me," says McDowell. "This is the best series in the world with the best drivers. We want to build toward the future."

TOUGH TO WATCH: "Watching the races has definitely been harder than I expected," says McDowell. "I kind of knew going into it that I wasn't going to do the first five (races), but the last few weeks I've been itching pretty bad to get in and get going. I've just been trying to hang out with the team and spend as much time as I can learning the car and the weekend procedure. A big help has been watching the races from the spotter's stand where you can see everything and scan a radio where you can listen to every team and driver."

MICHAEL ON MICHAEL: "I am really high on that kid (McDowell) because no matter what we do, he comes through," says Waltrip. "We went to Phoenix and our test wasn't great, but out of the three cars -- he was right in the middle and running basically the same times. Everywhere we go, he puts in miles, he puts in laps, he gives good feedback, he's fast and he doesn't run into anything. He learns and he contributes."

MORE ON MCDOWELL FROM DJ: "I've had the opportunity to be around Michael (McDowell) for the better part of the last eight or nine months," says Jarrett. "I think he has a tremendous amount of talent. I've been to test sessions with him and he seems to have a really good feel for the race car and what he's looking for out of it. He does have a bright future in this sport."

PACKED WITH PRESSURE: Reutimann will make his first start behind the wheel of the No. 44 UPS Camry at Martinsville after Jarrett competed in his final NASCAR points race at Bristol. "There's always a certain amount of pressure no matter what you drive, but to step in that 44 car, knowing UPS and Dale Jarrett were instrumental in getting me behind the wheel of that car, you don't want to go out there and do anything stupid," says Reutimann. "It's a pretty daunting process. But hey, I'm looking forward to the opportunity. There's always that uncertainty in racing and you're never going to know what's going to happen next, so this is something I could have never envisioned happening."

POINTS PACE: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and Camry driver Kyle Busch is leading the NSCS point standings heading into the sixth race of the season at Martinsville. Other Camrys in the NSCS standings include Tony Stewart (seventh), Denny Hamlin (15th), Vickers (17th), Reutimann (26th), Waltrip (30th), J.J. Yeley (31st), Jarrett (34th), and Blaney (37th).

DOUBLE DUTY: Three Camry drivers will compete in both the NSCS and NCTS races at Martinsville this weekend. Skinner will drive his No. 5 Tundra along with the No. 84 Red Bull Camry. Hamlin will compete in his first NCTS race this season in the No. 15 Tundra for Billy Ballew Motorsports as a teammate to NCTS points leader, Busch, who will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra.

KYLE COMMENTS: "I think the most time that you can get on the track is obviously beneficial," says Busch. "And for me, it's fun. I'd rather go out there and race than sit in the motor home and not do anything and watch the race on TV. So for me, it's just about getting out there and getting my hands dirty and trying to get some racing laps in. Running in the truck series is fun. I do it for the fun of it -- and to give some race wins to Toyota and those folks that have helped us out."

FIRMLY IN THE FIELD: Bristol was the fifth NSCS race of the season and the final event where drivers competed for starting positions based on 2007 owner point standings. Starting this weekend, teams will rely on their 2008 on-track performances, and those within the top-35 will start at Martinsville Speedway. At the moment, eight Toyota teams are within the top-35 and guaranteed to start at the Virginia short track. While the three Camrys of JGR (No. 18, 20 and 11) and the No. 83 Camry of the Red Bull Racing Team are solidly in the top-35, the Michael Waltrip Racing Camrys are 27th (No. 00 Camry), 30th (No. 55 Camry) and 34th (No. 44 Camry), and Hall of Fame Racing sits 31st (No. 96 Camry) in owner points. The No. 22 Camry of Bill Davis Racing is 37th, just 22 points out of the 35th position, while the Red Bull Racing Team's No. 84 Camry is 43rd.

LONG WAY FROM LAST YEAR: Martinsville will mark the first time that all three Camrys for Michael Waltrip Racing are locked into the 43-car starting field based on their on-track performance. The three Camrys have qualified for each of the first five races of the season and earned positions within the top-35 in owner points. "We've come a long way from a year ago," says Waltrip. "We've got all three cars in the top-35 heading into Martinsville -- last year we didn't have any. Looking at some of our statistics, I'm happy to say we're far ahead of where we were last year at this time, but we still have room for improvement."

LIFTING THE LOAD: "It's been two years since I went to the track knowing I was going to race on Sunday," continued Waltrip. "I'm very happy that it's come around again -- finally. It has been miserable for me on Fridays to worry about qualifying. No one knows how bad it feels until they are in that situation. I think you're going to see a lot of people at Martinsville who are on the outside feeling pretty stressed. Martinsville is not an easy place to qualify -- it's very technical and it doesn't take much to send you home. You fly into the corner and give it all you've got, but if that car doesn't stick a little bit or you lock the right front tire -- your day is over."

NATIONWIDE IN NASHVILLE: The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) spent last weekend in ‘Music City' at the Nashville Superspeedway. Camry driver, Busch, earned the third pole of the season in NNS for Toyota and seventh total. Two Camry drivers finished among the top-10 with Hamlin (seventh) and Reutimann (ninth). Jason Leffler (13th), Kyle Busch (16th) and Mike Wallace (20th) had top-20 finishes.

POINTS POSITIONS: Reutimann gained two positions in the NNS point standings with his ninth-place finish at Nashville and is now third. Other Camry drivers among the top-15 in points include Wallace (ninth), Leffler (10th) and Busch (11th).

LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER: Chrissy Wallace will make her debut NCTS start at Martinsville Speedway driving the No. 03 Germain Racing Tundra. Wallace, daughter of NNS driver Mike Wallace, tested with the team earlier this month and is looking forward to making the transition from Late Model Stock Cars to the NCTS. "This is a big opportunity with Germain Racing and Toyota," says Wallace. "Not many females have gotten the chance to be with a top-notch team like Germain Racing and work with a manufacturer like Toyota."

FAMILY FROLICS: The Wallace family has been a name synonymous with NASCAR racing for decades and Chrissy Wallace is benefiting from the support of her fellow family members. "Growing up has been really good because I've had my dad (Mike), Rusty and Kenny supporting me the whole time. Kenny (Wallace) has been calling me and trying to help me out. I think he's more nervous for me than my mom and dad. It's a big deal for me to get the opportunity to live up to the Wallace name."

PROUD PAPA: "I think what Chrissy ended up learning from two days testing the Tundra at Martinsville is all the fundamentals she needs to learn to go back for the race," says Mike Wallace. "The team is incredibly supportive of all the changes they were asked to make, and they verified it with data acquisition and tire temperatures. She was very sick during the test, and they made a lot of laps, which is physically trying -- but she was a trooper. I'd like to see her qualify well and race all day long. Wherever she ends up finishing, I just hope she gets to make all of the laps, and at Martinsville that's tough to do. It will be a great day if she can accomplish that."

TEAMMATE AND TEACHER: Todd Bodine will have the veteran advantage when it comes to helping his rookie teammates adapt to the Martinsville ‘paperclip.' "I'm going to help them, or coach them, because I was in their position before and when I needed help I went to Mark Martin," says Bodine, 2006 NCTS champion. "He always shot me straight and helped me become a better driver. I know what that meant to me and how much it helped me, and I know it's the right thing to do. That's what teammates are for and I think it's the right thing to do. It's something I've done my whole career. I've always been the guy rookies go to for help and direction."

HOMETOWN HERO: One person who has more experience than most drivers at Martinsville won't be in the starting line-up, but will be in the pits for Bill Davis Racing. Jeff Hensley, who hung up his driver's suit and is in his fourth season as crew chief for Skinner's No. 5 Toyota Tundra, knows Martinsville as well as anyone. Growing up in Ridgeway, Va., just six miles from Martinsville Speedway, Hensley spent considerable time at the track and is very familiar with the circuit. He competed in 10 Nationwide Series races, formerly the Busch Series, at Martinsville between 1982 and 1985, recording five top-10 finishes.

MARTINSVILLE MOMENT: "The first time I raced at Martinsville was in 1982," says Hensley. "I think it was the first year of the Nationwide Series. I had run a race at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway and decided to try and make the Martinsville race. There were 50 or 60 cars there and I had to run a qualifying race just to get into the 250-lap feature. I managed to finish second in the heat to make the race. Then we ran the big race -- running against guys like Jack Ingram, Tommy Ellis and Tommy Houston -- and we finished ninth. It was a big deal just to make the race, let alone finish in the top-10."

VIRGINIA CONNECTIONS: HT Motorsports is one of the longest-operating NASCAR teams based in the state of Virginia. Team owner Jim Harris is a lifelong resident of the Lynchburg, Va.-area, where he operates his family owned business, Harris Trucking. HT Motorsports' team sponsor, ASE, is also located in Virginia, with their corporate headquarters located in Leesburg.

TUNDRA TIME: A Tundra has made its way to victory lane in each of the first three NCTS races of the season. Bodine won the season-opener at Daytona (2-15-08) in the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Tundra, while Busch, driver of the No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Tundra, won the two most recent races at California (2-23-08) and Atlanta (3-8-08).

TOYOTA ON TOP: Busch sits atop the NCTS point standings after three of 25 races, holding a 72-point advantage over Bodine. Tundra drivers Benson (fifth), Skinner (seventh), Starr (eighth) and rookie Phillip McGilton (10th) are also in the top-10 in points heading into Martinsville.

TOYOTA TRACK: Irwindale Speedway announced a multi-year naming rights sponsorship program with the Southern California Toyota Dealers Advertising Association (SCTDAA) and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. in which the track will be renamed Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The Toyota Tundra will serve as the official vehicle of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The track will again host the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2009. The naming rights sponsorship is the first for any NASCAR weekly short track racing facility in the United States.

MOVING FORWARD: The NSCS Camrys will head west to compete on the larger speedways of Texas Motor Speedway (4-6-08) and Phoenix International Raceway (4-13-08). Yeley and McDowell will race in front of their hometown fans at Phoenix after both drivers participated in successful test sessions at the track last month. The NNS will enjoy this weekend off before returning to action alongside the NSCS at Texas and Phoenix.

BACK STORY: Background information on the Toyota NASCAR program is available at www.toyota.com/pitpass.

IMAGES INFORMATION: Members of media can access Toyota images at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.

2008 TOYOTA DRIVER/TEAM ROSTER

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Driver				Car						Team
Dave Blaney		No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry			Bill Davis Racing
J.J. Yeley		No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry			Hall of Fame Racing
Kyle Busch		No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry			Joe Gibbs Racing
Denny Hamlin		No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry			Joe Gibbs Racing
Tony Stewart		No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry			Joe Gibbs Racing
Michael McDowell	No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry	Michael Waltrip Racing
David Reutimann		No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry				Michael Waltrip Racing
Michael Waltrip		No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry			Michael Waltrip Racing
Mike Skinner		No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry			Red Bull Racing Team
Brian Vickers		No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry			Red Bull Racing Team

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Driver				Car						Team
Johnny Benson		No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Tundra	Bill Davis Racing
Phillip McGilton	No. 22 Toyota Tundra				Bill Davis Racing
Ken Schrader		No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Tundra	Bill Davis Racing
Mike Skinner		No. 5 Toyota Tundra				Bill Davis Racing
Kyle Busch		No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota Tundra		Billy Ballew Motorsports
Denny Hamlin		No. 15 Toyota Tundra				Billy Ballew Motorsports
Todd Bodine		No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra		Germain Racing
Justin Marks		No. 9 Crocs Toyota Tundra			Germain Racing
Chrissy Wallace		No. 03 Toyota Tundra				Germain Racing
Ted Musgrave		No. 59 Team ASE Toyota Tundra			HT Motorsports
David Starr		No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra		Red Horse Racing
Terry Cook		No. 60 Wyler.com Toyota Tundra			Wyler Racing
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