NASCAR News

Toyota to Compete in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch Series

Photos courtesy of Toyota

January 23, 2006

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The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and Toyota announced today the manufacturer’s plans to expand its NASCAR program by competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series starting in 2007, fielding the Toyota Camry model.

The expansion will follow three years of Toyota competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and will result in all three of NASCAR’s national series having four manufacturers competing, as Toyota will join Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford.

“NASCAR welcomes Toyota to the greatest auto racing in the world,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, who made the announcement on today at NASCAR’S Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

"Toyota’s entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series is good for drivers, teams and the fans. This move provides for even more intense competition on the track between drivers and manufacturers, which will provide more excitement and fan interest. Toyota’s entry also provides more options for drivers and teams, which will increase the competition between manufacturers.”

“It’s a great pleasure to announce Toyota’s entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series with the Toyota Camry,” said Dave Illingworth, senior vice president and chief planning and administrative officer for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

“Next year – 2007 – will be a special year for Toyota in more ways than one. Toyota will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the United States, and we will be joining the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, America’s premier racing series. Toyota has been an important part of the U.S. motorsports community for almost 25 years. We’ve competed and won in different series and on tracks across America. Toyota drivers and teams have won championships in a variety of different series. But, if you want to compete against the best in America, that means NASCAR.

“We look forward to February of 2007 when the green flag waves to start the Daytona 500 and the starting lineup features the Toyota Camry.”

Illingworth, who joined France in making the announcement, said more information – regarding possible sponsor and driver lineups – will be released Tuesday night, during a media gathering at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord.

This year, Toyota is celebrating its 24th year of participation in American professional auto racing. Toyota drivers and teams have won championships in IMSA, CART, IRL and off-road racing. They have won such historic events as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Baja 1000 and the Indianapolis 500.

Toyota moved into NASCAR in 2000, fielding the Celica model in the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series. The following season, Robert Huffman gave Toyota its first NASCAR victory, at Kentucky Speedway. In 2003, Huffman gave Toyota its first NASCAR championship by capturing the NASCAR Goody’s Dash title.

In 2004, Toyota entered the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with the Tundra – in the process becoming the first new manufacturer in one of NASCAR’s top series in more than 50 years. In two seasons of NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition, Tundra drivers have recorded 13 victories and 18 poles.

Toyota, which has been doing business in America since 1957, now has eight plants in the United States – 14 if you count all of North America. Toyota will build approximately 1.6 million vehicles this year, including production at its new Tundra pickup plant in Texas. Toyota and its dealers now directly employ approximately 142,000 Americans.

Since 1986, Toyota has built more than 12 million vehicles in the United States. More than 6.5 million Camrys have been sold in the United States and it has been the best-selling car in America for eight of the past nine years. Camrys are built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, Ky.

The author can be contacted at nascar@autoracing1.com

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