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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Toyota notes heading into Talladega weekend

DETAILS ON DOVER:  Six Camry drivers recorded top-10 finishes in Sunday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Delaware's Dover International Speedway.  Mark Martin (third) was the first Toyota driver to the finish line in the 400-lap NSCS race at the Delaware concrete oval, followed by Martin Truex Jr. (sixth), Kyle Busch (seventh), Denny Hamlin (eighth), Clint Bowyer (ninth) and Joey Logano (10th).  Busch led the field four times for 302 laps before he was forced to pit late in the race for fuel, and Hamlin  led the field three times for 39 laps.

CAMRY CHASERS:  Heading into the fourth event of the 10-race 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' championship playoff this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Hamlin sits in third-place behind points-leader Brad Keselowski and second-place Jimmie Johnson.  Hamlin is 16 points behind Keselowski and 11 points behind Johnson.  MWR teammates Bowyer (-25 points) and Truex (-42 points) are in fourth and eighth-place, respectively, in the point standings.  Hamlin has five career top-10 finishes at Talladega and has led a total of 204 laps.  Bowyer has claimed two consecutive wins in the fall events at Talladega, in addition to recording seven top-10 finishes in 13 starts at the track, while Truex has registered four top-10s at the 2.66-mile track.

LOGANO SWEEPS DOVER:  In Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Dover, Logano led the field twice for a race-high 184 laps (of 200) in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Camry to sweep the 2012 NNS races at the one-mile concrete oval.  Logano has won seven NNS races this season, including another victory at Dover earlier this year where he led 154 of 200 laps.  Busch (fifth) and Brian Scott (seventh) also registered top-10s for Toyota at Dover.

LINE ON LAS VEGAS:  Tundra driver Matt Crafton was the first Toyota racer to the finish line with a runner-up result in Saturday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Crafton led 14 of the final 15 circuits in his ThorSport Racing No. 88 Tundra before eventual race-winner Nelson Piquet Jr. made a last-lap pass to take the victory.  The runner-up result marked Crafton's fifth consecutive top-five result at Las Vegas.  Todd Bodine (fifth), Timothy Peters (eighth) and David Mayhew (ninth) also earned top-10 finishes for Toyota at the 1.5-mile oval.

TUNDRA TRIUMPHS:  Tundra drivers have captured four wins in six NCWTS races at Talladega Superspeedway.  Busch has won twice at the 2.66-mile superspeedway (2009 and 2010) and Bodine won consecutive races prior to Busch's reign (2007 and 2008).  Bodine has led the most laps in the NCWTS at Talladega (86) and has recorded five top-10 finishes in six starts at the Alabama track.

RACING FOR AWARENESS:  Nine women affiliated with the Toyota Racing program are involved in 'Racing For Awareness,' a friendly competition that includes driver wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters creating a T-shirt design in support of breast cancer awareness.  The winning design will be selected by fan votes and will be announced during the Charlotte race weekend in October, with the winning T-shirt made available for purchase.  Proceeds from the contest will be given to Charlotte-based charity, Carolina Breast Friends, and fans can visit to see the designs, cast their vote and also enter to win weekly prizes through Oct. 4, 2012 at 12 PM (ET).

SOCIAL MEDIA & WEBSITE:  Background and images about the Toyota NASCAR program are available at, @ToyotaRacing, and

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):  Since the start of the 2012 season, Toyota drivers have combined for nine victories, 41 top-five results, 88 top-10 finishes and have led 3,154 laps …  Michael Waltrip will be behind the wheel of the Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 55 Camry at Talladega … Waltrip was victorious at Talladega in Sept. 2003 … Toyota drivers have earned two NSCS wins at Talladega … Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart swept the 2008 NSCS races in Alabama …  Joey Logano has recorded four top-10 finishes, including a pair of top-five results in the fall race -- third in 2009 and fifth in 2010 -- in just seven starts at Talladega.

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you have any special strategy heading to Talladega?
"Talladega is an absolute crap shoot, but it's going to be for everyone.  We have to know who we're racing.  We have to make smart decisions and keep all the fenders on it.  Typically, most superspeedways I'm right in it until the very end and get caught up in a wreck.  My job is to make sure to concentrate on that weekend, not look forward and focus on getting the most points possible."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)
Is the attitude on your team more positive this year?
"We went through changes.  Obviously, I took time off in the off-season and then we had a new crew chief so there was reason for optimism simply because I got reenergized to go back to the race track with a new outlook, with a championship
crew chief who just came off an excellent Chase.  I think it has more to do with Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and what he brought to the race team -- not just the 11 team, but Joe Gibbs Racing -- his leadership and all the guys in the shop were really excited to work for him and excited that we got him over to Joe Gibbs Racing.  Everyone seemed to be very upbeat in the shop in the off-season.  That just fed right to me and, when you win the second race of the season with a new crew chief, that just lifted all the confidence through the roof and we maintained it right up until now."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How much of 'wild card' is the Talladega race?
"It's going to be the wild card race.  Things are so tight right now and the competition is so close it's literally a point or two here and a point or two there -- that's shaking up the Chase right now.  Talladega can shake things up in a big way.  It can propel you to the lead or bury you.  It's one of those races that I kind of look forward to.  I've won a couple times there and enjoy it, but I also know what can happen there too."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How beneficial are your team meetings this year with the addition of Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin?
"We've always had great team meetings.  This year, they've been obviously different having three cars -- especially having three cars that are as competitive as ours are.  Three guys that expect to win each and every weekend and won't settle for anything less than the best.  It's been awesome to be a part of that.  I've learned so much from both of those guys this year.
There have been times where we've all been off a little bit and fed off the other team, so it's been great team chemistry.  Part of the reason the success we had this year was so much fun was because of the teamwork we had and the way everyone worked together and really kept each other pumped up -- whether you had a good day or a bad day."

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS):  After 27 races, Mike Bliss ranks eighth in the series point standings … Brian Scott (ninth) and Joe Nemechek (10th) are also among the top-10 in the standings … The No. 18 JGR Camry currently leads the NNS owner's point standings by 21 points over the second-place No. 2 entry … The NNS has a weekend off before returning to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 12.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):  After 17 races, Timothy Peters ranks third in the series point standings -- 23 points behind series point leader Ty Dillon … Parker Kligerman (fifth) and Matt Crafton (sixth) are also in the top-10 in the standings … Saturday's race at Talladega will mark the 300th start for Red Horse Racing … In 2009, Tundra drivers captured the top-five finishing positions in the Talladega NCWTS race -- Kyle Busch (first), Aric Almirola (second), Todd Bodine  (third), Terry Cook (fourth) and David Starr (fifth) … Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) tire specialist Greg Passen is a Birmingham, Ala., native … Kurt Busch will be behind the wheel of the KBM No. 18 Tundra at Talladega … Three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion German Quiroga (2009-2011) will pilot the KBM No. 51 Tundra at Talladega … The 32-year-old made two starts for KBM in 2011 with his best finish (16th) coming in his NCWTS debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing
How important is the Talladega race during a championship run? "This weekend at Talladega is going to be unpredictable, because the racing there is always a crapshoot.   We've had a tough couple weeks after our win at Bristol, but our Red Horse Racing team never stops working hard and I'm really proud of the comeback we had at Las Vegas last weekend.  The hit in the points is disappointing, but we're not out of it yet by any means because we haven't gone to the wild card race at Talladega yet.  When you're running by yourself, it's sort of like watching paint dry.  But, when  you get 36 of us together, racing four-wide or three-wide for the entire race -- probably only a second from the first to the last truck -- it gets pretty intense.  We're just going to have to keep doing what we've done all year and see where it shakes out at the end."

TODD BODINE, No. 11 Toyota Care Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Why have you been so successful at superspeedways?
"I've been fortunate to have fast race trucks in the past to help me get the wins at both Talladega and Daytona, but there's really no secret.  You have to keep yourself out of trouble to be in contention for the win in the closing laps and you have to align yourself with a good drafting partner.  I'm excited to get back behind the wheel of this Toyota Care Tundra this weekend because I know it is fast and it handled well at Daytona in February.  I know a lot of drivers try to stay in the back and miss 'The Big One', but I'm much more comfortable out front and that's where I plan to be.  "We had a great Tundra at Daytona and taking the same one to Talladega.  A couple little tweaks on it and I think we've got another shot at it


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