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Feb 27, 2013 - 07:14 PM
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2013 Phoenix: Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Tidbits
Posted by: newsla on Feb 27, 2013 - 07:14 PM
2013 Phoenix: Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Tidbits


SEASON DEBUT: At Daytona International Speedway in the inaugural races of the 2013 season, Toyota driver Kyle Busch gave the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Camry its first victory when he won one of the qualifying 'Duels' last Thursday. In the Daytona 500, veteran driver Mark Martin registered a third-place result in the 55th running of the Daytona 500 and rookie Alex Bowman (third) and Parker Kligerman (fifth) earned top-five results in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Daytona.


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100 FOR TUNDRA: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) win by Johnny Sauter at Daytona marked the 100th victory for the Tundra in the series. Twenty Toyota drivers from 12 different teams have combined to reach the 100 win mark since Travis Kvapil earned the first Tundra victory at Michigan International Speedway in July 2004. This is the 10th season the Tundra is competing in the NCWTS. Busch has the most victories registered by one Tundra driver in the series with 24.

PHOENIX IS WHERE IT'S AT: The new 2013 race cars rolled out at Daytona, but the drivers and teams are eager to head to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). The new Camry may perform differently at the Phoenix flat track compared to the high-banks of the Daytona superspeedway. In fact, Phoenix is the first intermediate track for the new vehicles, providing teams with a gauge of how they may perform the remainder of the season at various short and intermediate tracks.

TUCSON'S BOWMAN TAKES TURN: Camry driver Bowman will run a full-time schedule in the NNS with RAB Racing in 2013. The 19-year-old Tucson, Arizona-native is one of the youngest competitors in the Nationwide Series. His third-place result at Daytona marked a career-best showing for the driver and came in just his fifth NNS start. Bowman competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in 2011 and earned a runner-up result at Phoenix that year. He's also earned six ARCA wins in 2011 and 2012, and finished fourth in the series standings one year ago.

TOYOTA'S IN THE HOUSE: Toyota will serve as the race sponsor for Friday's Toyota 120 at Phoenix International Raceway -- the first-ever north of the border event for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series. The Camry will serve as the pace car for Friday's Toyota 120 and the Avalon will pace the NSCS and NNS races this weekend at PIR. Additionally, the Toyota PitPass interactive fan display will be on-site at Phoenix, featuring a new simulator this season that gives fans the chance to experience the banking of different tracks on the NASCAR schedule from inside an Avalon.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season-opening Daytona 500, Toyota drivers combined for one top-five result and 125 laps (of 200) led, including a race-high 86 laps by Camry newcomer Matt Kenseth … Denny Hamlin was victorious in a Toyota at PIR last March … The Camry also visited victory lane at Phoenix in Nov. 2011 with Kasey Kahne … Kyle Busch has one win (2005), and 10 top-10 finishes in 16 PIR races … Mark Martin has the most career NSCS starts at Phoenix -- 32 -- dating back to 1988 … Matt Kenseth has one triumph (2002), eight top-10 finishes and one pole position at PIR … Former Arizona State University football player Wes Evans is the gas man for Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 NAPA Toyota team … Evans played defensive end and tight end during his collegiate career (2005-2008) before making the jump into NASCAR in 2009.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What do you think about the addition of Matt Kenseth to Joe Gibbs Racing?

"He's (Matt Kenseth) a great competitor and obviously a champion, although I do remind him that he won a championship in '03 and not in the current Chase era. He's got the notoriety of a multi-Daytona 500 winner and he's a really cool dude. He's very down to earth. He's very well-respected with Denny (Hamlin) and myself. I've never had a spat with Matt on the race track never being his teammate before. It's pretty cool to now have the chance to work with him and really get to know how Kenseth goes about things and what he can bring to the table at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing)."

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Husky Tools Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How do you think the new car will perform at intermediate tracks?

"I think the car looks great, so far it's going really good with me making the team switch at the same time, because everyone is sort of starting over in a way. I like the car and am anxious to see it on the race track in competition. Really anxious to see it at Phoenix and Vegas and what they run like there."

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Husky Tools Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Is it easy for you to assume the role of the veteran at JGR?

"Well first, I didn't really assume that role. People have talked about that, but I didn't -- when I came in nobody ever said, 'Hey, you need to come in here and be the leader,' or whatever. I'm looking forward to working more with Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin) -- they are both obviously really good and win a ton of races. I think I'll be able to learn a lot from them. Hopefully, I can do my part and contribute as well and help make all three teams stronger. That's always the goal -- to work with your teammates and get the organization as strong as you can get it and if you can't win on a particular day, hopefully one of your teammates does."

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Does physical fitness provide an advantage in this sport?

"That's a real tough question. I use to answer that question by saying, 'I'm not sure,' because there's not a gauge on people's forehead that says they're doing 100 now and they were doing 50 before. I don't know. I just believe that physical conditioning makes you better at any single thing you do, whether it's going to the grocery store or what. Physical conditioning can make you better. It can make you better physically. It can make you better mentally. I don't know the science behind it and all that, but I just believe that it can make a difference. Certainly it makes a different in other facets of your life, so why wouldn't it make a difference if you were driving a race car?"

How do you think the new Camry will perform at Phoenix?

"I think when we get in these cars at Phoenix they are going to stick like glue. These new cars are going to break a lot of track records in 2013 and I think that could start as soon as Friday in Phoenix. We were fortunate enough to win the pole here last year. I think we are going to need to go a heck of a lot faster this year to repeat."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Do you think the new car better suits your driving style?

"I feel like it fits me a little bit better. This car demands you to drive it. It wants you to be aggressive. It likes to be pushed. The car we've been running the last few years is the opposite -- it's always telling you to slow down and wait and be patient and be smooth. I don't like that. I like to attack. I like to drive the car. It's so much fun to drive this new car because of that. It challenges you as a driver to push it and I really enjoy that, so I think it fits my style better for sure and hopefully that will be the case come race time."

NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): In the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) season-opener at Daytona, Camry drivers earned two top-five finishes, three top-10 results and led 65 laps … Eric McClure earned a career-best eighth-place finish at Daytona in his 200th NNS start … Toyota drivers have combined to earn four victories and six poles at PIR … Kyle Busch earned first-place PIR trophies in 2008, 2010 and 2011 while former Camry driver Joey Logano was triumphant last November … Denny Hamlin leads all Camry drivers with three poles at PIR and Busch has one, while Logano has two … Busch holds the current qualifying track record set in 2011 with a speed of 134.298 mph … Microsoft and TRD unveiled the 'Trackside app' on the Surface Pro Windows 8 touch device to better assist communication between driver, crew chief and engineering staff … RAB Racing is the initial team utilizing the app this season.

ALEX BOWMAN, No. 99 Toyota Camry, RAB Racing

Do you enjoy going home to race at Phoenix International Raceway?

"Phoenix has to be one of my favorite race tracks. I'm really pumped up to get down there. I think we're going to have a great race car. It's the same car we took there last time in the fall. It's a little bit better than it was. I'm just so pumped up to work with Chris Rice (crew chief). It's been so much fun working with him. I feel like a part of his family. I went to Universal Orlando with his family while at Daytona and just been having a lot of fun. I'm just really thankful to be here."

BRIAN VICKERS, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Are you looking forward to racing in Phoenix?

"Phoenix is something that I'm really looking forward to -- I love that race track. I came very close to a win there last year and just missed it and ran out of time. Hopefully, we can get that this year. Phoenix is a great race track and it will be a good race for us -- it will be nice to get back to a race track where you have to use the brake a little bit and turn."

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season- opener at Daytona, Tundra drivers earned one victory, two top-five finishes, three top-10 results and led 37 laps … Johnny Sauter's Daytona victory marks the seventh consecutive triumph for Tundra drivers at Daytona, dating back to 2007 … The NCWTS takes the next month off, racing next at Martinsville Speedway on April 6.

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