Daytona 500: Toyota Day 1 report
Today's NASCAR Nextel Cup practice sessions marked the first time all three Toyota teams -- Bill Davis Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull -- participated in on-track activities in preparation for this year's Daytona 500.
Eight Toyota Camrys took to the track today in NASCAR Nextel Cup practice. Bill Davis Racing had three Camrys practice: Dave Blaney, Jeremy Mayfield and Mike Skinner. Michael Waltrip Racing had three Camrys practice: Dale Jarrett, David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip.
Team Red Bull had two Camrys practice: AJ Allmendinger and Brian Vickers.
Toyota has participated in the past three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) events at Daytona International Speedway (2004-06). Toyota Tundras finished second, third, fourth and fifth in last year's NCTS race at Daytona.
Blaney and Skinner made engine changes during the first practice session. Mayfield turned the fourth-fastest time of the second practice session with a lap time of 48.424 seconds at 185.858 mph.
AJ ALLMENDINGER, No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Team Red Bull:
On first official NNCS practice in Toyota Camry:
"The first practice was okay. We want to be a little faster, obviously. We found some things that really hurt us and some things that really helped us. If we pick up one tenth, we could pick up ten spots. Everyone at Team Red Bull has been working extremely hard since we got here and I'm getting more experience each time I go out there."
On drawing 39th qualifying spot:
"I'm not sure if it will help or not because I've never qualified here before. Some say that the track will be a little cooler later, but we also have to think about the wind. Hopefully, the wind will be relatively calm and there will be some cloud cover so we can go out and put down a pretty good time. With Brian going out first, maybe we can learn something from him, or he can give us some information for when we go out there."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing:
On the 2007 season:
"We're really excited and optimistic about this year. Having Toyota come in really has elevated our program -- better equipment and the resources to do a lot more testing and research. It's almost impossible to beat these great teams in NASCAR, but we feel like we've got a pretty good chance. The team is so much stronger with more guys at the race shop, and Toyota has been able to help a lot with engineering. Eventually, that's going to show up on the racetrack."
BILL DAVIS, Owner of Bill Davis Racing fielding cars No. 22, 23 and 36:
On team making engine changes following practice session one:
"We got off to a pretty bad start around here with the No. 22 and 23. We had a little different barring package, which was worth a little bit of horsepower, sensed the chance that it was going to be good. We definitely didn't have enough oil pressure for it. We hurt a couple of motors and lost a bunch of practice time. We've got the same package that we tested with and ran real well with at test to put back in it. We'll recover and get back, we just waited a test session. We'll just change motors."
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing:
On the first two practice sessions for the Daytona 500:
"These sessions went pretty well, not exactly what we were looking for, but the car drives really well. We freed it up quite a bit in the last practice session and I feel like it could stand to be freed up even more. There is still a lot of learning going on with these cars and it is encouraging to see some of the other Toyota teams and my teammates making some solid improvements. We're going to talk with the other teams and see what they are doing because we really need to find some more speed. We have really made some great improvements on the drivability of the car and now we have to focus on speed."
JEREMY MAYFIELD, No. 36 360 OTC, Bill Davis Racing:
On the first practice session for the Daytona 500:
"It was a little bit of a typical Daytona where you go out and don't really get as many laps in as you would want to, but overall it went pretty good. We went out, made one lap and came in, cooled down and made another run - that's all we could get in. That's just because of the time here. We ended up 20th and we still hope to gain a little bit more. We'd like to be at least in the top 15, top 12 before it is over with and hopefully with the second practice we'll be able to do that.
On the role that the large field of cars trying to make the Daytona 500 plays in amount of track time:
"Having so many cars here does play a little bit of a role in less track time, but that's part of it with the way the cars are built and you have to play their game. But, that's not going to keep you from running good or bad, it hurts a little of your test time, but we should be prepared."
On practice session two:
"It was pretty good. That's pretty much what we were expecting or hoping. We didn't get a good lap in the first practice like we wanted to, but we came back and ran a real good mock qualifying run. It's been a great car; it tested good here and really handles good. We're real excited about it."
On Daytona 500 qualifying:
"I hope it goes just like it is right now, I'd be tickled to death. That's one of the things we want to do is have a good time tomorrow night and not have to worry about the 150's, that would be great - that's what we're shooting for. That's what we're really focused on, trying to get a best out of the car so we can get a good time."
On running fourth in the second practice session:
"I'm really excited about it, not only for me, but for our new sponsors and for Toyota. But I'm really excited about it, knowing that we can come back and repeat what we did in the test here. It's a good sign, a good sign of the future and I feel real good about this Bill Davis Racing team. These guys really work hard and to come out here with a good car, we are really excited about that."
On his new team:
"Last year, I was kind of low; obviously I didn't finish all the races. I got to test with these guys and I feel like we've been together forever. This will be our first race, but we've been together for six or eight months now. For a lot of these guys, this is there first time together at Daytona."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Domino's Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing:
On the first practice for the Daytona 500 for Michael Waltrip Racing:
"We have to get a lot better, but that is hard to do here. We're okay, but we're not exactly where we need to be. We're working real hard to try to get some more speed out of the car. We got a good draw for qualifying tomorrow, we go out 60th so that may or may not help us. We made pretty big gains from where we tested until now, but we are still a ways off from where we need to be."
On the pressure of these practice sessions:
"It's just stressful, we're just trying to find speed and our Michael Waltrip Racing team is doing everything we can to get into this race."
On coming to the Daytona 500 as a driver:
"All the people that have had to do the things to help me live my dream has been remarkable. I grew up dreaming of someday driving in this race. The team is full of excellent people to work with and I can't believe the amount of effort they are putting into this. There's still a lot of work to do, but I can't believe I'm actually here doing this. This has been a dream come true."
On Toyota's improvements in the second practice:
"The improvements have come from a lot of hard work on everyone’s part. Everybody has been sharing information and these guys have been working on the motors and the changes are starting to add up. Hopefully the wind will stay down and with our late draw, we'll see. I know the entire Michael Waltrip Racing team has been working their tails off to give us fast Camrys, and we're starting to see some of that pay off."
MIKE SKINNER, No. 23 Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing:
On the first practice sessions at Daytona:
"The engine didn't break or anything. We went out and we ran two or three laps, came in and they saw some things in the oil filter that they just wasn't happy with. Rather than to take a chance of having an engine failure, we decided to change the engine and let NASCAR look at it and see what they think. They put another engine in and it was just as good as the first engine. We made two runs this last practice and we got our Camry a little better. I really would have liked the opportunity to make a couple runs the first time because we are right on the fence of being good enough to get in on time. Tommy Baldwin and these guys, they've got something left somewhere, a little bit here, a little bit there. Of course everyone in the garage does, too. Hopefully the room of doom over there isn't too hard on us and we can tune her up and get a good lap tomorrow."
DOUG RICHERT, Crew Chief, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Team Red Bull:
On his experience at Daytona:
"I hope to think experience helps a little bit, but all in all, you have to have the whole package together, and that's what we're trying to do. When you get here, you pretty much have what you got. We're doing everything we can and I know Brian is doing everything that he can do, and hopefully, things will work out for us."
On how the Bud Shootout will help the team for the Daytona 500:
"The Bud Shootout car we're going to run tonight will give us a little help and some ideas. It will give us trends and direction for next Thursday's race. Any laps we can get right now is going to be a help. Anything that we can learn is going to help."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Team Red Bull:
On the results of the first two Daytona 500 practice sessions:
"We didn't come down here to Daytona and expect to be fast. We'll try to qualify our way into the race tomorrow, but what's more likely is that we'll be racing our way in next Thursday in the Duels just like the rest of the teams. The Duels are going to be tough and we hope we can get into the race, but the unfortunate part is that some teams are going to be going home."
On getting ready for Daytona with a brand new race team:
"It's been a lot of work, probably more than I thought it would be. I guess because I wasn't changing teams, but going to a brand new team. There has been a lot to do just to get ready for Daytona. I think I've worked more this off-season than I ever have in my career, but I have really had a lot of fun. It has been a neat experience working with Red Bull and Toyota."
On pressure of qualifying for the Daytona 500:
"We have a competitive car for the 500 and we should be able to make the race. It is stressful for everyone at Team Red Bull, but there is no added pressure. Everyone knows we are a brand new team and we know that Red Bull supports this team. Everyone involved with our team understands that, Toyota understands that there is a chance that all their cars may not make the race, but we are planning on a successful weekend."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing:
On how the first two practice sessions have gone:
"These first two practice sessions have gone really well and we've improved on every run. On that last run we were pretty competitive, but we'll just have to see what happens tomorrow. It's really tough to get through inspection and keep everything that you want. We're going to try our best and we've been totally validating everything we've done and we know everything is right, but you just have to go through the inspection process."
On how the entire Michael Waltrip Racing team has been working together:
"I've been real proud of the team; we've gotten in a lot of runs probably as many as anyone. Our guys have done a really good job and they are a great group of guys. Not just the 55 team, but all the 00 and 44 guys. All three of our teams are working really well together. We totally understand what everybody's doing. Now we have to sit down and figure out if something that has been done to one car will work to make another faster. And if we think so, then we've been running with it."
On special adjustments to the car during practice:
"We haven't been doing anything funny, everything has been pretty normal. I think we are on the right track to being one of the three fastest cars for tomorrow. We are working hard and I think we are real close to that goal. We just have to see how it all works tomorrow."
On MWR's first race at Daytona:
"This race is a big deal. It's a huge race and everyone wants to be a part of it. Unfortunately, there will be cars that don't make it. If we're one of those cars -- that isn't going to define who we are. We can run one, two, and three in the Daytona 500 and doesn't mean we've made it as a team. And if we DNQ two of them, that doesn't mean we've failed as a team. It's a much longer road that we plan on going down." Toyota Motorsports