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Old 01-23-2006, 09:39 AM   #1
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Default Toyota to run in Nextel Cup starting in 2007

I wonder what Toyota will race, maybe the new Camry/Solara...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Toyota will race in Nextel Cup events beginning in 2007, becoming the first foreign competitor in NASCAR's top stock car series since the 1950s.

The Japanese auto maker will also run the Busch Series races after the 2006 season, joining Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge. The announcement was expected at a Monday news conference from NASCAR's research and development facility in Concord, a person close to Toyota told The Associated Press.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't been made, said Toyota "is looking forward to being competitive right off the bat" in both series.

The last foreign manufacturer to participate in NASCAR's top racing series was Jaguar, which entered several races in the 1950s.

The move by Toyota was not a complete surprise. The company moved into NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in 2004 and quickly became competitive, with Travis Kvapil giving the manufacturer its first win in July of that year.

Toyota raced in several American-based sports car series before moving into open-wheel racing in 1996.

After providing engines for several teams in what was then the CART series from 1996-02, Toyota moved to the rival Indy Racing League, where it won 17 races, including four last year. The highlight for Toyota came when one of its engines powered Gil de Ferran to a victory in the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

The company was scheduled to continue to supply engines for IRL teams through 2006, but decided over the winter to withdraw immediately to concentrate on developing its NASCAR program, leaving Honda, its Japan competitor, as the IRL's only engine supplier for the upcoming season.
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:45 AM   #2
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Old 01-23-2006, 01:08 PM   #3
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NASCAR unveiling car of future, Toyota plans

The NASCAR of tomorrow will be unveiled Monday in a news conference at the sanctioning body's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

Toyota's long-expected entry into Nextel Cup in 2007 will be the showcase of the kickoff to the Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour.

NASCAR also will reveal the 2006 class of the Drive for Diversity program, which was created to groom prospective minority drivers at the grass-roots level. President Mike Helton and vice president of research and development Gary Nelson will outline plans for the "Car of Tomorrow," a boxier model designed to enhance safety and improve competition that will be phased into Cup racing in the next three years.

But Toyota will be the focal point for more than 200 media during a week-long parade of team shops in the Charlotte area.

Tuesday, the Japanese automaker is expected to be named the official vehicle of Lowe's Motor Speedway and to announce its team and sponsor lineup for the Busch and Cup series under the Camry banner.

Bill Davis Racing is the only Cup team fielding Toyota Tundras in the Craftsman Truck Series. BDR will provide Cup cars this season to the newly formed Waltrip-Jasper Racing. The partnership between Michael Waltrip and Doug Bawel transfers the 34th-place owner points from the defunct No. 77 Dodge, which was co-owned by Bawel, to Waltrip's car and ensures him a spot in the first five races of 2006 as a top-35 driver.

Waltrip also has a Toyota connection through his older brother, Darrell, who has two Tundras in the truck series.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:37 PM   #4
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:15 AM   #5
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CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Toyota is planning to move up to NASCAR's top two stock car series and not
everybody is happy about it.

The Japanese automaker, which has competed in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series the past two seasons, announced Monday it will also run its Camry brand in both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series in 2007.

NASCAR chairman Brian France gave his blessing to Toyota, telling more than 200 reporters taking part in the first day of the annual pre-season media tour "Toyota has proven in the truck series it can be a great partner. NASCAR offered them the best opportunity to build their presence in racing in North America and we're glad they are here."

Toyota will become the first foreign competitor in NASCAR's top series since Jaguar ran in several races in the 1950s.

Team owner Jack Roush, who runs cars in each of the three top NASCAR series and whose drivers have won two of the last three Cup titles, offered a warning about Toyota's move up.

"If NASCAR manages to get in front of Toyota and tell them what they want to do and enforce it, they'll be the first sanctioning body that ever did that," said Roush, whose team runs Fords. "I'll watch with some interest, I'd like to say from a safe distance, but my distance is not far enough to be safe."

Toyota, which is becoming increasingly successful in the U.S. even as General Motors and Ford struggle, has previously been involved in American sports car racing and open-wheel racing. The company has been known in the past for inflating the cost of racing with its free spending, sometimes dominating the series and having a major effect on the rules before leaving for greener pastures.

In the truck series, Toyota brought in a costly factory team approach, making quick inroads by producing the engines and chassis for all of its teams.

Toyota official Dave Illingworth said that will not be the case in Cup and Busch.

"There will be no Toyota branded teams or cars," he said. "Teams will bring their own sponsorship and we will provide only technical support, much as the other manufacturers in those series have done in the past."

France said he believes Toyota, which will also continue to compete in trucks, will approach the Cup and Busch in the proper way.

"They recognize that (centralizing their teams) wasn't how NASCAR (works) and wasn't going to be in their best interest in the future," France said.

Roush hopes that is the way it really works out once Toyota becomes established in Cup and Busch.

"But they operated their truck teams as one program and made the team owners just name owners only in order to justify what they were doing," he said. "But they have the same cars and the same engines and the same technology and wound up ruling that thing with pretty much of an iron hand.

"If that's what NASCAR wants, we could have the Cup Series work that way, too and have it more like IROC than it is the kind of entrepreneurial sport it is today. But I don't think that's where it will go. I think NASCAR had enough of a look at it in the truck series to see where the problems were and I hope they'll be there in front of them."

No teams or drivers were named Monday by Toyota, but the company is expected to announced Tuesday at least part of its lineup. Bill Davis Racing and a new team co-owned by Michael Waltrip and Doug Bawel, president of Jasper Engines, are expected to be among those named.

But Greg Biffle, who drives for Roush and finished second to 2005 Cup champion Tony Stewart, doesn't care who Toyota aligns with.

"It doesn't bother me any," he said. "It's free enterprise. C'mon, bring your best stuff."
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