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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Toyota and Chevy notes and quotes, heading into Sonoma


LOGANO ON A ROLL: Camry driver Joey Logano has seen recent success in both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series. His NNS victory at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday marked his fifth win in 11 starts this season, and fourth in his last five races. Logano also earned NNS first-place trophies at California, Darlington, Dover and Talladega -- which pushed the Toyota NASCAR victory total over 200 (currently at 206). The 22-year-old also has five NSCS top-10 finishes this year, including a victory at Pocono earlier this month.

TOYOTA AT SONOMA: Since joining the series in 2007, Toyota drivers have claimed one victory (Kyle Busch, 2008) and two poles (Brian Vickers, 2009 and Logano, 2011) at the road course in Sonoma, Calif. Camry drivers have collected a total of eight top-10 finishes at Sonoma, including a fifth-place result by Denny Hamlin (2009), a sixth-place run by Logano (2011) and an eighth-place finish by Martin Truex Jr. (2011).

VICKERS RETURNS TO 55 car: Camry driver Vickers returns to Michael Waltrip Racing's (MWR) No. 55 Camry at Sonoma. The 28-year-old racer is sharing the driver's seat with veterans Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip this season and it will be his third stint behind the wheel of the MWR Camry this year after racing at Martinsville and finishing fifth at
Bristol in March. In six starts at Sonoma, Vickers has one pole (2009) and has finished on the lead lap in all but one event.

McDOWELL IN GIBBS NATINOWIDE RIDE AT ROAD AMERICA: Camry driver Michael McDowell will take the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota for the first NNS road course race of the season. In last year's event in Elkhart Lake, Wis., McDowell earned the pole and led 30 laps (of 57) before finishing 12th in the race. The 28-year-old Phoenix-native began his racing career on road courses where he earned numerous wins and championships in the Formula Renault USA Series, the Star Mazda Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Series before entering NASCAR competition in 2008.

BOWYER'S BARRETT-JACKSON DESIGN: Camry driver Clint Bowyer designed a 2011 Toyota Tundra to be
auctioned by Barrett-Jackson in Costa Mesa, Calif., on June 23. The design features a red patina paint job to give it the appearance of a well-used, weathered 'tri-five' style work truck. Additional '50s-style elements incorporated into the design include a roof visor; custom wheels; louvered tailgate; vertical bar grill; white bumpers, mirrors and grill; a wood bed and wood bed stakes; and blanket upholstered seats. Proceeds from Bowyer's auctioned Tundra will be donated to the Emporia
Community Foundation, an organization designed to improve the quality of life in his hometown of Emporia, Kan. Bowyer
will also host a concert featuring his good friend and country music superstar Blake Shelton in Emporia on Tues., June 26.

BUCKET LIST: Toyota owner and NASCAR fan Pamela Nelson will travel through two countries, two provinces and three
states in her 2011 Toyota Tacoma to attend her first NASCAR race. The 1,300 mile trip from Alberta, Canada to Sonoma, California, will push the odometer in her truck, which she has dubbed 'Beasty,' to over the 20,000-mile mark. In addition to the Sonoma road course event, Nelson will knock a few other items off her bucket list, including seeing California coastal
attractions like San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, San Jose's Winchester Mystery House and a visit to a friend in Fresno who survived a traumatic brain injury. After posting on Twitter her affection for NASCAR and Toyota, Nelson will be attending the race courtesy of @ToyotaRacing.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): After 15 races in 2012, Denny Hamlin is fifth in the series point standings, trailing leader Matt Kenseth by 51 points … Martin Truex Jr. (seventh) and Clint Bowyer (ninth) also rank in the top-10 in the standings … Toyota drivers have led 36 percent of the laps at Sonoma since 2007 (202 of 555 total laps) … This is the sixth consecutive year Toyota will serve as co-sponsor of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 … Toyota is also the 'Official Vehicle' of the
track … Joey Logano won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) race in 2011 … JTG-Daugherty Racing and
Bobby Labonte's main sponsor, Clorox, is based in Oakland … Kyle Busch is tied for the most starts (344) in a Toyota with
David Reutimann … The Las Vegas-native has 84 total wins in 344 starts behind the wheel of a Toyota including 20 NSCS
victories, 40 NNS triumphs and 24 NCWTS first-place trophies … Hamlin will visit the FedEx Express hub in Anchorage on
Mon., June 25 where he'll learn to mush from Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey … Through Oct. 1, the Kyle Busch Foundation will be raffling a custom motorcycle in conjunction with Deadwood Choppers at



How did you learn to become a road course racer?
"I haven't gotten good yet. I'm still struggling a little bit. It seems like when I come to Sonoma, it just takes me a long time to really get in a rhythm. Watkins Glen -- I seem to always have speed, but Sonoma it's just a lot more technical. There are more corners and it's a slower speed road course. I feel like its very similar to short track racing. The only difference is
you're going right because the speed is about the same. It's all about getting good corner exit that leads into the next corner.
For me it's just running as hard as you can and obviously looking at a lot of data from guys like Kyle (Busch) that are really good on road courses."

What type of road course is Sonoma?
"I like Sonoma. I feel like it's a really slow road course. We don't get going very fast at all, even though it's a long course. I
think the fast part is pretty much down through the 'esses.' Turn 11 is a U-turn and you're down in first gear and you're putting around it trying to get forward drive -- trying to hook our cars a little bit. It's a challenge trying to get 850 horsepower under the hood of the Home Depot Toyota Camry that seems to be bolted to the ground."

Are you looking forward to returning to the NSCS at Sonoma?
"I'm looking forward to getting back into the No. 55 Camry at Sonoma -- especially after being away for so long. The No. 55 team has been running very well with Mark (Martin) and I hope I can continue that momentum. They were so fast at Pocono and Michigan. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and the guys gave me a great car at the VIR (Virginia International Raceway) test. We ran very competitive laps times against some guys that are considered the road race experts, so I am pretty pumped about that. I've had some success at Sonoma, too. "

Did you enjoy creating the Tundra that will participate in the Barrett-Jackson Auction on Saturday?
"It was a really fun project. I want to thank Toyota for allowing that to happen, and Sherwin-Williams for putting the contest on and supplying everything. I hope it goes over with a big bang because I certainly really enjoyed it. It's a truck that is kind of me -- that's my style. I like that old ratty look -- you know, your hot rods and the rat rods and things like that. It was a fun project to take a new Tundra and do in a week what mother nature would take 60 years to do."

Will you be able to attend the auction with NASCAR racing in Sonoma, Calif., the same weekend?
"We're going to go to the Barrett-Jackson Auction and actually sell and be a part of the auction. We're going to leave from Sonoma. I've been to the one in Scottsdale (Ariz.) -- it's so much fun. Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy it and have a lot of success. You go to the auctions and for a guy that loves cars, I'm a kid in a candy store, I really am. To be able to be a part of something that's selling, something that we built and were a part of -- it's going to be special."

How excited are you to return to Road America?
"I'm really pumped up and I enjoy road racing so much because it's my background, and going to Road America is so nice and the race track is awesome. I grew up running different Formula cars there at Road America. We're going to have a competitive Camry. You're also going up against guys like Jacques Villeneuve and Max Papis and a lot of great drivers that
have a lot of road course experience as well. Last year, we had a dominant car and a dominant performance and we kind of
gave one up. This year, you go back there knowing that you have an opportunity to win, but you also don't know until you unload if the other teams have made gains or are they closer now. We're g oing to have to work hard -- it's not a 'gimmie'."


Chevrolet drivers have won 10 of 23 races at Sonoma Raceway. Wins by active drivers are:
— Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, has five (5) wins at Sonoma (’98, ’99, ’00, ’04 & ‘06)
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, has two (2) victories at Sonoma (’01 & ’05)
Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet, has taken the checkered flag once at Sonoma (’11)
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, has one win at Sonoma (’10)
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, has one trophy from Sonoma (’09)
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, has one victory at Sonoma (’07)

A Chevrolet driver has won five (5) of the last 10 races at Sonoma
A Chevrolet driver has sat on the pole at Sonoma 10 times
Team Chevy drivers have scored 49 top-five and 86 top-10 finishes at Sonoma
A Chevrolet has led 956 laps (43.1% of possible 2,219 at Sonoma Raceway)

“I am humbled to be able to drive with TBR in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and represent Ice Age: Continental Drift. It is an honor to mix both of my worlds on America’s biggest racing stage and to be racing the same number as Danica Patrick did in the Daytona 500 and other races this year. Our goal this weekend is to get a solid finish for TBR and some good exposure for Ice Age. Thanks to TBR for working hard this year on the points. A special thanks to Mike Cesario from Racers Drive for helping TBR and myself get together for this opportunity.”

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