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Toyota to announce IRL withdrawal next weekUPDATE #3 There has been considerable speculation that Toyota will move up to the Busch series in 2006 or 2007 and eventually move into Nextel Cup, challenging Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge, which currently race in NASCAR's top stock-car series. "We are continuing to explore our options in NASCAR," said Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports. "However, at the present time our continued focus is on the Craftsman Truck Series." USA Today06/28/05 This rumor is now 'fact.' See press release on Hot News page. 06/27/05 Toyota Racing Development USA, which is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, is opening an office in Charlotte, North Carolina, from where the firm will oversee its attack into NASCAR. 06/26/05 Toyota, which will finally announce next week it's leaving the Indy Racing League at the end of 2006, had one of those rare feel good races Saturday night here at Richmond International Raceway.
Its drivers, Helio Castroneves and Patrick Carpentier, finished first and third, Team Penske led 154 of 250 laps after starting on the front row and had a sure 1-2 finish before Sam Hornish Jr. crashed while chasing his teammate.
And, even though this racy three-quarter mile oval is more of a handling track than a horsepower joint, Toyota triumphed for only the fourth time in the past 23 starts. Of course all four of them have been split between Castroneves and Hornish as the rest of the Toyota contingent (including Target/Ganassi) has been shut out.
But the hard news of this weekend is that Toyota is honoring its commitment to Tony George's series to stay through 2006 and will not bail out at the close of 2005 as has been rumored for the past several months.
Nobody made any comments here but SPEEDTV.com has learned there will be some kind of press release, maybe as early as Monday.
"That's our intention. We've got a contract through 2006 and we're going to give it our best effort," said Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development, while standing in victory lane on Saturday night.
"That's always been our plan and we've got several teams counting on us and we intend to move ahead and try to get back to where we were in 2003." It's believed that Lee White, general manager of TRD, is moving from Toyota's LA office to Charlotte and that Toyota will be in Nextel Cup by 2007 at the earliest. But Toyota is sticking around open wheel racing in this country for '06 and showed some overall promise here. "We're making some short steps and we'd like to make a big one but we haven't quite figured that out yet," said Aust. Cheever hopes Toyota's final fling is a winner. SPEEDTV.com
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