NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) @ Daytona International Speedway
Friday, July 4, Qualifying @ 4:10 PM (ET) -- SPEED, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Saturday, July 5, Race start @ 8:00 PM (ET) -- TNT, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Race 18 of 36
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) @ Daytona International Speedway
Friday, July 4, Qualifying @ 1:05 PM (ET) – ESPN2, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Friday, July 4, Race start @ 8:00 PM (ET) --ESPN2, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 128)
Race 19 of 35
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
HISTORY HERE: This weekend, the Toyota Camry will make its fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) appearance at Daytona International Speedway. In February's Daytona 500, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch earned Toyota's first-ever top-five NSCS finishes at the historic 2.5-mile tri-oval, finishing third and fourth, respectively. Other Camrys in the race included Brian Vickers (12th), Dale Jarrett (16th), Denny Hamlin (17th), David Reutimann (18th), J.J. Yeley (25th), Michael Waltrip (29th) and Dave Blaney (38th).
BUNCH OF BESTS: Pit strategy proved to be successful for two Camry drivers in Sunday's rain-shortened NSCS race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Waltrip finished second and Yeley ended up in third-place, marking their best finishes in a Camry. Waltrip's second-place result also marked the best result for a Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) entry since joining NSCS competition at the beginning of the 2007 season.
WORKING AWAY AT WALTRIP'S: In just their second season participating in the Sprint Cup Series, MWR is still growing as a team. "We are met with challenges everyday," says Waltrip. "We don't have a full-time sponsor for our third car and we haven't performed this year like we hoped. It was good to see David (Reutimann) out there in New Hampshire running in the top-15 mostly all day and us being very competitive. Those are the types of things we need in order to keep pace and get a foothold inside this garage area in ‘09 and beyond so that MWR can become more of a strong force."
BIG BOOST: Yeley's third-place finish at New Hampshire was a huge boost to the Hall of Fame Racing team. "It's tremendous," Yeley says. "Last week (at Infineon) was a big blow to miss the race by five one-hundredths (of a second) and to get ourselves further behind was devastating. It was an extra fire for me coming into Loudon. This is a race track I've had the best average finish than any of the other tracks I've been to. This finish is going to give the guys hope, and that's the most important thing. If everyone is happy, everyone is going to work harder and you're going to go out and run better. Hopefully, this is just a sign of good things to come."
TOUGH LUCK FOR TONY: Stewart's Camry was the most dominant car on Sunday, leading 132 of 284 laps, but pit strategy and rain led to a 13th-place finish for the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 20 Home Depot Camry. "Greg (Zipadelli, crew chief) gave me the best car I've had since Charlotte and it's just frustrating," said Stewart, following the race. "None of the results this year are due to lack of effort. I have some of the best guys in the garage area and I've had them for 10 years and this is the worst string of bad luck we've ever seen. There's a percentage of this industry that's called luck and you can't change it. We will just keep plugging away each week until we get it turned around."
TAKING 10,000: By leading 132 laps in Sunday's New Hampshire race, Stewart crossed the 10,000 laps led mark in his NSCS career. Stewart has now led 10,123 laps in 337 starts during his 10-year NSCS career. Stewart also ranks 13th among NASCAR's all-time lap leaders.
FEBRUARY FLASHBACK: Coming to the white flag in February's Daytona 500, Stewart was at the front of the field looking to earn the Camry's first victory in NSCS competition, but Penske Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch took a run down Daytona's backstretch to pass Stewart heading into turn three before the checkered flag. Camry drivers combined to lead 138 of the 200 laps in the season-opening race. Stewart led four times for 16 laps, Kyle Busch led eight times for a race-high 86 laps and fellow JGR driver Hamlin led five times for 32 laps.
SUPERSPEEDWAY SUCCESS: Current Camry drivers have experienced much success in restrictor-plate races, including Busch's win at Talladega in April. Stewart won back-to-back summer races at Daytona in 2005 and 2006, and Waltrip has recorded three wins at the legendary superspeedway (2001, 2002 and 2003), as well as starting on the outside of the front row earlier this year at Daytona. Waltrip (2003) and Vickers (2006) have also won at another restrictor-plate track -- Talladega.
WINNING WAYS: Waltrip has been successful at the ‘World Center of Racing' with three career wins at the track. "I always look forward to going back to Daytona and we have historically run well there," says Waltrip. "We didn't get the result in the (Daytona) 500 that we thought we deserved -- we got in a crash late when we had our car tuned up and ready to go. We also had Talladega well in our grasp and had a chance to win there. We'll go to Daytona with the mindset that we can sit on the pole and win the race. I don't see any way in the world that won't be the case."
ROOKIE READY: Rookie Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Camry, will get his first NSCS start at Daytona on Saturday night. "Daytona is a handling track and you have to have your car handling well because it's going to be hot and slick," says McDowell. "Superspeedways are such a different animal -- it's more about learning your peers and what you need to do to put yourself in position to make a move. It's tough because you have to calculate when to go and when not to go, and that's pretty difficult. It's definitely going to be a steep learning curve, but I know all the folks at Toyota work hard on their plate motors and it seems like we're really good when we go there."
WHY CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS?: NSCS point leader Busch will look to get a push at Daytona to win his second superspeedway race this year, after crossing the finish line first at Talladega in April. "Well, I either have a lot of friends or I have no friends," Busch says. "They're either happy for me or mad at me. I think that there are a lot of good guys out there that will help us. Who has my car worked well with and whose car worked well with mine? That's kind of how you have to play it at restrictor plate races."
SECOND TIME AROUND: With the NSCS season at the midway point, Camry driver Hamlin is excited about returning to race tracks for the second time this year. "I look forward to it for sure, especially some of the tracks that we really ran well at, like Daytona," says Hamlin. When it comes to our best and worst race tracks, this past month has probably been a string of our worst race tracks. Really the ‘Chase' kind of plays into our hand better."
CHASE TALK: Hamlin currently sits in seventh-place in the NSCS point standings with nine races to go until the ‘Chase.' "We've got to get our consistency back," says Hamlin. "We've got to work on getting back to the basics and making sure we salvage good days even when we don't run that well. We need to finish in the top-15 every week -- that's the main goal. We're going to have to be on our game because there are a lot of guys 13th and 14th that are looking at it like ‘We need to finish top-five every week.' We're kind of on the defensive and we just need to just maintain right now."
HORSEPOWER TO FOOT POWER: Hamlin has figured out one way to avoid paying high gas prices at the pump. "I'm riding bikes," Hamlin says. "Pretty much every day me and my buddy -- instead of driving to go and get lunch, we peddle our way to go and get lunch. It's five miles away and what we're saving is not that much, but we do it for our personal health reasons and we do it basically for gas reasons. It's affecting everyone for sure -- even us drivers. We make a decent amount of money, but we understand paying at the pump stinks so I'm doing foot power."
FAMILY AFFAIR IN FLORIDA: Reutimann, driver of the No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, and his family hail from Zephyrhills, Fla., which is about 130 miles from Daytona. Reutimann's spotter and cousin, Shawn Reutimann, resides in Zephyrhills where he helps his brother Greg run ‘Reutimann Collision.' At 67 years old, David's father Buzzie Reutimann still races at East Bay Raceway in open wheel Modifieds, and has already won multiple races this year.
DAVID ON DAYTONA: "I'm looking forward to getting back to Daytona -- it's one of my favorite race tracks," says Reutimann. "Ever since I first had the opportunity to go through the gate and race there, I've enjoyed it and always looked forward to going back there and running. I've got friends and family that will be over there and a lot of people that I don't get to normally see. Florida is home so it's as close as I will get to home this year."
POINTS PACE: Busch continues to lead the NSCS point standings following Sunday's race in New Hampshire, and holds a 64-point advantage over second-place Jeff Burton. Other Camry drivers among the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings include Hamlin (seventh), Stewart (ninth) and Vickers (16th).
FIRMLY IN THE FIELD: Eight Camrys are guaranteed starting spots at Daytona based on the current NSCS owner point standings. Per NASCAR rules, the top-35 in owner points are given starting spots, assuring that Busch's No. 18 (first in owner points), Hamlin's No. 11 (seventh), Stewart's No. 20 (ninth), Vickers' No. 83 (16th), Waltrip's No. 55 (28th), Reutimann's No. 44 (29th), Blaney's No. 22 (30th) and McDowell's No. 00 (35th) will be in Saturday's race. Yeley's No. 96 (37th) and Allmendinger's No. 84 (38th) will have to qualify for the race.
NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES
DOUBLE DUTY: Four Camry drivers will compete in both the NSCS and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races at Daytona this weekend. Busch and Hamlin will each drive NNS cars for JGR, along with their full-time NSCS rides. Vickers will compete in Friday night's NNS race behind the wheel of the Braun Racing No. 32 Dollar General Camry. Reutimann will once again compete for MWR in both events.
MORE HISTORY HERE: This weekend, the Toyota Camry will make its fourth NNS appearance at Daytona. In February, eight Camrys competed at Daytona with Stewart earning the first victory in a Camry for JGR. Busch finished runner-up while Vickers earned a fourth-place result. Other Camrys in the field included Hamlin (eighth), Reutimann (14th), Jason Leffler (19th), Mike Wallace (24th) and McDowell (27th). Leffler earned the pole position at Daytona last July.
CAMRYS CATCHING CHECKERS: Stewart won his fifth NNS race in seven starts Saturday at New Hampshire. It marked the 12th Toyota win in 18 NNS races this season. Stewart's five NNS checkered flags this season have come at Daytona (2-16-08), California (2-25-08), Talladega (4-26-08), Darlington (5-9-08) and New Hampshire (6-28-08). Busch has four wins, including three consecutive at Texas (4-5-08), Phoenix (4-11-08) and Mexico City (4-20-08), along with a victory at Charlotte (5-24-08). Hamlin has victories at Richmond (5-2-08) and Dover (5-31-08), and Joey Logano won at Kentucky (6-14-08).
THANKS DAVE!: Stewart praised crew chief Dave Rogers for the success of the JGR No. 20 Toyota team that has won eight NNS races in 2008 with four different drivers. "The master himself, Dave Rogers (crew chief), he's behind every one of these wins this year," said Stewart, following his win. "I give Dave so much credit -- he knows when you tell him we have a long way to go that he's not afraid to make a big change. That's what won us the race -- his confidence and his being able to make the call there and pick two tires."
CAMRY CONSISTENCY: Four Camry drivers hold positions in the top-15 in the NNS point standings after 18 races. Reutimann moved into second in the points (182 points behind leader Clint Bowyer) with his seventh-place finish at New Hampshire, followed by Busch (seventh), Wallace (eighth) and Leffler (11th).
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES
RACE REWIND: In Saturday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Memphis Motorsports Park, three Toyota Tundra drivers scored top-10 finishes. David Starr had a fifth-place run in the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Tundra, Mike Skinner finished seventh and Shane Sieg (ninth) scored his best NCTS finish of the season. Johnny Benson started on the pole in the No. 23 Brangus Tundra and led 43 laps, but mechanical problems forced him to the garage after completing just 84 of 200 laps on the three-quarter-mile Tennessee oval.
FOUR IN TEN: Four Tundra drivers are currently in the top-10 in NCTS point standings after 12 of 25 races. Benson fell from first to fourth and is now 56 points behind leader Ron Hornaday, Jr. Tundra drivers Bodine (third), Skinner (sixth) and Cook (ninth) also are in the top-10 in points.
HONORING BOB: Bob Germain Sr., father of NASCAR team owners Bob Jr., Steve and Rick Germain, passed away last Friday (June 27). Bob Sr., was a University of Michigan fan and in his honor crew members on Germain Racing's NCTS teams wore maize and gold ribbons in Saturday's race at Memphis. Wallace's No. 7 Germain Racing team will honor him the same way this Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Bob Sr., opened his first Toyota dealership in 1968 in Columbus, Ohio, and has since opened Toyota dealerships throughout Ohio and Florida.
MANUFACTURER'S MATH: Toyota holds the lead in two of the three premier NASCAR series in the 2008 manufacturer's championship point standings. Toyota is 10 points ahead of Chevrolet in the NSCS and has a 23-point advantage over Chevrolet in NNS. Toyota is four points behind Chevrolet in the NCTS point standings.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AT DAYTONA: TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development), which designs, develops and prepares the Toyota and Lexus engines for racing competition, has enjoyed a dream season to date at Daytona. The company's engines have already won four races in Daytona this season beginning with the Rolex 24 Hours (Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas/Juan Pablo Montoya/Dario Franchitti), followed by victories in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Todd Bodine), NASCAR Nationwide Series (Stewart) and in a NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying race (Hamlin).
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 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing Denny Hamlin No. 11 FedEx Kinko's Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing Tony Stewart No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing Michael McDowell No. 00 Champion Home Mortgage 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 AJ Allmendinger No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry Red Bull Racing Team Brian Vickers No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry Red Bull Racing Team NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Car Team Jason Leffler No. 38 Great Clips Toyota Camry Braun Racing Brian Vickers No. 32 Dollar General Toyota Camry Braun Racing Mike Wallace No. 7 GEICO Toyota Camry Germain Racing Kyle Busch No. 18 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing Denny Hamlin No. 20 Hardee's/Coke Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing David Reutimann No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry Michael Waltrip Racing
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