Toyota NASCAR Tidbits – April 29 – May 5, 2013Press Release
RICHMOND RECAP: Toyota served as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races last weekend at Virginia’s Richmond International Raceway. In Saturday night’s Toyota Owner’s 400 NSCS race at Richmond, Clint Bowyer earned a second-place result after leading 113 laps (of 406) and Matt Kenseth finished seventh after starting from the pole and leading a race-high 140 laps. In Friday night’s Toyota Care 250 NNS race, Kyle Busch (third), Brian Vickers (fourth) and Elliott Sadler (sixth) earned top-10 finishes for Toyota. Busch and Sadler led 18 laps a piece in the 250 lap event at the Virginia short track.
700 FOR LABONTE: Camry driver Bobby Labonte will make his 700th career NSCS start this weekend at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway in the JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 47 Clorox Camry. Labonte currently ranks 15th on the all-time NSCS starts list. The 2000 NASCAR Cup champion has registered 21 wins, 115 top-five finishes, 203 top-10 results and 26 pole positions during his 22-year NSCS career. Labonte, who won from the pole at Talladega in 1998, has recorded 13 top- 10 finishes in 40 career starts at the Alabama superspeedway.
WALTRIP RETURNS: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) team owner and two-time Daytona 500 champion (2001 and 2003), Michael Waltrip, will be behind the wheel of the MWR No. 55 Camry at Talladega Superspeedway. Waltrip, who is only running the superspeedway races on the NSCS schedule this season, won the fall 2003 race at Talladega. In 53 career Talladega starts, Waltrip has earned one win, seven top-five finishes and 15 top-10 results.
KLIGERMAN TO CAMRY: Toyota driver Parker Kligerman, who won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at the 2.66-mile Alabama superspeedway last October, returns to Talladega this weekend competing in his first full season in the NNS with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), driving the No. 77 Camry. The win was Kligerman’s first career NCWTS victory, and he went on to finish fifth in the final NCWTS driver point standings. The 22-year-old Westport, Conn.-native has recorded three top-10 finishes in the first seven NNS races this season, including a career best finish of fourth-place at California’s Auto Club Speedway in March and a fifth-place result in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Through nine 2013 races, Clint Bowyer (fifth) and Kyle Busch (seventh) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Camry drivers swept both NSCS races at Talladega Superspeedway in 2008, with Busch and Tony Stewart winning in the spring and fall, respectively … Current Camry drivers Bowyer (Oct. 2011), Matt Kenseth (Oct. 2012), Brian Vickers (Oct. 2006) and Michael Waltrip (Sept. 2003) have also earned victories at Talladega prior to joining Toyota teams … Camry drivers have led 1,639 laps (of 2,990) in NSCS competition this season — nearly 55 percent of the total laps this year … Three lucky fans will have the opportunity to ride shotgun in a Toyota Camry race car with Bowyer and Darrell Waltrip as they race each other side-by-side at Charlotte Motor Speedway in MRO’s (Motor Racing Outreach) ride-along event on Tuesday, May 7.
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 PEAK Motor Oil Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Will the new cars put on the same type of race at Talladega compared to Daytona in February? “There was a tremendous amount of things that happened at Daytona as a whole for our sport of NASCAR. I’ve said this time and time again, the restrictor plates are something — the goal of what a good race is and the vision of the fan changes from time to time. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just that’s facts. What our fans ask for and what we strive for as far as a product on the race track on those superspeedways changes sometimes, and certainly with that changing, the good thing is from what I’ve seen the restrictor-plate tracks are a heck of a lot easier to change and perfect and manipulate rule-wise as these mile-and-a-halfs and short tracks. I think we’re definitely on to something with the Gen-6 car. I think it’s really made a huge impact in what we’re putting on the race track for product and then moving on into these superspeedways. Hopefully, if we get down there and they don’t see what they want to see as far as racing, I think there are some things that we could possibly do to change the car ever so slightly and obviously change the product.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it take to be successful at Talladega? “Things have changed a lot this year with the rules package and such. First, just having fast cars. Last year we had real fast cars and at the Daytona 500 this year we had an extremely fast car and were able to get up there and lead a lot and unfortunately didn’t make it to the end there with a mechanical failure. So, I feel good going back to Talladega. There hasn’t been any rules changes. I think it’s going to be a track position race, a strategy race with pit stops, restarts and all of those things that are so important to get your car in the right spot. I feel like we learned a lot at Daytona — all three of the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) Toyotas were really fast, so hopefully we’ll see more of that at Talladega.”
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
How special will it be to make your 700th Sprint Cup Series start at Talladega? “That’s obviously something. I think back to racing my Late Model at Caraway (Speedway, Asheboro, N.C.) and wanting to race in the Cup Series when I was 22 or 23 or 24 years old and I never would have thought then that I would be doing the things I’m doing today — and racing means so much to me. I love doing it, and to reach 700 is a milestone that I obviously never would have thought about when I started. I would have never thought that I would have been able to do this at this point in time. It’s just an incredible feat, I think, just because that’s a lot of green flag starts.”
Did you ever think you could make it to 700 Sprint Cup Series starts when your racing career began? “No, especially when the first one was a struggle and the second one was a struggle. They’ve come and gone. I would’ve never thought that. It is just a true blessing that I’ve been able to do that because when you think about starting off racing doing this and that and you don’t think about that number. From Late Model racing you just try to get from track to track and week to week and wonder if you will have enough money to buy tires. Started off in NASCAR with Bill Davis and went there for a couple of years. Then, went to Joe Gibbs Racing and spent some time and won a championship and then to have situations between then and now. When you go through the economic times of life where it kind of goes up and down and it would be hard to have a job for that many years that is so consistent. To do this is hard, and to think it was that consistent.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): After seven 2013 races, Elliott Sadler (fifth), Brian Vickers (sixth) and Parker Kligerman (eighth) rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) point standings … Toyota drivers have led 708 laps (of 1,420) this year — nearly 50 percent of this season’s NNS laps … Camry drivers have finished third or better in all seven NNS races this season dating back to Alex Bowman’s third-place result at Daytona in February … Kyle Busch has finished third or better in the last six NNS races, including four wins (Phoenix, Bristol, California and Texas), a runner-up finish (Las Vegas) and third-place result at Richmond.
PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 77 Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports
What is the key to being successful at superspeedway racing? “The biggest thing about superspeedway racing for myself is that I spend a lot of time studying for superspeedway racing. Leading up to a superspeedway race, I like to spend that week watching not one, not two, but many race tapes and really trying to figure out what the strategy is going to be for that last 10 laps. I like to say the last 10 percent is my time. Everything else leading up to that I’ll do whatever it takes to be part of that last 10 percent and I spend a lot of time studying and working with my team to understand exactly what we need for that last 10 percent and hopefully go out there and win the races. So far, I’ve been really successful in the superspeedways in the last couple of months. The last few superspeedway races that I’ve done I have really good finishes. I’m excited and I’m optimistic for that and hopefully we can continue to keep that good momentum going at superspeedway races.”
What do you do to prepare for superspeedway races? “Mental stuff a lot of times. A big part of it is I think the superspeedway racing is all about the mental aspect of it. It’s a chess game at 200 miles an hour. I look for trends. I look for moves out there that maybe someone else hasn’t thought of. I look for things that we’ve done to the cars that maybe changed the package — so there’s a race two or three years ago that had a close similar package, I go and watch that race and what it took to win the race. What the moves were and what the drafting was like and I put that all in a notebook mentally and hopefully apply it during the race.”
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): After four races this season, Matt Crafton leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) standings by 13 points over his teammate Johnny Sauter in second-place … Darrell Wallace Jr. (eighth) and Joey Coulter (ninth) also rank in the top-10 …The NCWTS will enjoy two more weeks off before returning to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 17.
Source: Toyota Racing
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