Toyota Talladega Preview

TOYOTA OWNER’S TRIUMPH: Camry driver Carl Edwards won the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday to claim his second-consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory and the fourth-straight win for Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Edwards led a race-high 151 laps (of 400) to become the first Camry driver to win the Toyota Owners 400 since Toyota began sponsoring the race four years ago. With the victory, Toyota and JGR have won five of nine NSCS events to start the 2016 season.

WHAT A YEAR: After four-straight wins by Camry drivers in the NSCS, Toyota has now won nearly 50 percent of all Sprint Cup contests over the last calendar year – 17 of the last 36 point races (47.22 percent). Toyota won its first NSCS driver’s championship in 2015 and the manufacturer also won the Cup Series’ four ‘majors’ in the last year – the 2016 Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500 in 2015 – as well as the Sprint All-Star race. In addition to Toyota winning its first NSCS title in 2015, the Daytona 500 and Brickyard wins were also firsts for the manufacturer, who has now visited victory lane at every NSCS race track on the series schedule.

SUAREZ STANDS OUT: Camry driver Daniel Suarez extended his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) points lead to nine marks over second-place after a fourth-place finish in the Toyota Care 250 at Richmond. Suarez has tallied seven top-10 results in eight races to rank first in the series standings after winning the 2015 NXS Rookie of the Year award – and he has 13 top-10s in the last 14 races dating to the 2015 season. Suarez, who is still seeking his first NASCAR national series win, had a season-best result of second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The native of Mexico finished eighth in the first restrictor-plate race of the year at Daytona International Speedway in February.

NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Carl Edwards (first), Kyle Busch (fourth), Denny Hamlin (ninth) and Martin Truex Jr. (10th) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Busch (two), Carl Edwards (two) and Hamlin (one) have secured places in the 2016 NSCS Chase by virtue of wins this season … Toyota drivers have captured three NSCS victories at Talladega Superspeedway … Busch and former Toyota driver Tony Stewart won on the 2.66-mile track in 2008, while Hamlin piloted his Camry to Talladega’s victory lane in 2014 … Busch will make his 400th-career NSCS start at Talladega … With one more NSCS victory, Busch will tie Stewart for the most Cup Series wins in Joe Gibbs Racing history … Michael Waltrip will pilot the No. 55 Camry this weekend for Premium Motorsports at Talladega … Waltrip won the fall 2003 race in Alabama and finished fourth at the track in a Camry in May 2013 … In 59 career Talladega starts, Waltrip has one win, eight top-five finishes and 16 top-10 results.

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Will the Toyota teams work together at Talladega Superspeedway like they did at Daytona International Speedway?

“I haven’t thought about that. We haven’t sat down and worked on our strategy, but I can tell you this – Toyota teams really led by Denny (Hamlin), we worked well together. It was something like I’ve never been a part of. I don’t know if that same type of thing will work at Talladega, but it’d be hard not to try. We’ve got a really good group that understands what teamwork is."

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How do you approach the possibility of calamity at Talladega?

“You just never know if or when ‘The Big One’ is going to happen at Talladega. I mean if you look at Daytona this past February, we were leading the race and took the white flag and you figure that there’s always a wreck on the last lap and they never wrecked, so you just can never plan for that. You just need to go out and race as hard as you can and try to position yourself as far towards the front as you can – hopefully even leading – where hopefully whenever there is a wreck that it’s behind you. The draft is always changing and depends on where the other cars are and what lane they’re in, what cars your car works well with and where the momentum is. It’s all about learning to adapt to that changing draft in order to have your car in the right place at the right time."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

What is your strategy for Talladega?

“There’s no secret about what you have to do at Talladega – you need to stay out of trouble and be running up front during the closing laps. It might not sound too difficult, but it’s one of the toughest places to race because in most cases you’re not in control of your destiny. The reason we had two top-10 finishes at Talladega last year is that we stayed out of the mess and were able to maintain our position at the end. The one thing that has me jazzed about Talladega is that we will have Toyota power for the big track. Looking back at Daytona, I believe four of the first five cars had Toyota powerplants."

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (first) and Erik Jones (fifth) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Matt Tifft will make his second appearance in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Camry at Talladega this weekend … Brandon McReynolds, the son of former NASCAR crew chief and analyst Larry McReynolds, will race in the No. 24 Camry for JGL Racing at Talladega … The NXS start is the second for McReynolds and his first since 2010.

MATT TIFFT, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How do you feel entering the Talladega Superspeedway race weekend?

“My last time at Talladega with the KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) truck, we were running well. I just got caught up in the big one. Then I thought I learned a lot racing Daytona earlier this year and I'm definitely looking forward to getting back on a restrictor-plate track to keep learning and to have a good run with NOS Energy Drink. I know I’ll keep making progress with Joe Gibbs Racing again this weekend. I thought we had a strong showing in Richmond and I look forward to capitalizing on the team processes I learned there this week in Talladega even though it is a different kind of race."

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How do you feel returning to Talladega for the second time in the XFINITY Series?

“I’m looking forward to Talladega and getting back in my ARRIS Camry this weekend. In my race last year, we had a fast Camry – I just got caught up in an accident towards the middle portion of the race and that set us back. We learned a lot in Daytona about our restrictor-plate package that I think we can carry over to this weekend. Anything can happen at Talladega, but I’m looking forward to the race on Saturday and hopefully coming home with our first win."

ERIK JONES, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What do you have to do to be successful at Talladega?

“Talladega is definitely a place where you have to have everything go right not only from a team perspective, but from a the perspective of being in the right spot at the right time of the race and making sure you are up front and challenging for the win all day and trying to miss the wrecks and stay out of everything. If that happens, then usually you can be up at the front with a chance to win. It’s a really tough place to win and there’s not much you can do as a team, but we’re going to give it our best shot to go out and have a fast Camry, qualify up front and be there at the end of the race with a shot to win our second race of the year."

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra drivers Timothy Peters (third), Cameron Hayley (fifth) and Ben Rhodes (10th) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings … The NCWTS next races at Kansas Speedway on Friday, May 6 in the Toyota Tundra 250.

TOYOTA 2016 NASCAR STATISTICS

Series

Races

Starts (Drivers)

Wins

Top-5s

Top-10s

Poles

Times Led

Laps Led

NSCS

9

66 (10)

5

16

26

3

87

1,841

NXS

8

65 (16)

5

15

18

6

19

922

NCWTS

3

40 (18)

1

6

13

2

22

336

TOYOTA DRIVER ROSTER – Talladega Superspeedway (NSCS and NXS)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Camry

Kyle Busch, No. 18 Camry

Carl Edwards, No. 19 Camry

Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Camry

David Ragan, No. 23 Camry

Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Camry

Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Camry

Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Camry

Ryan Ellis, No. 93 Camry

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Jeff Green, No. 10 Camry

John Jackson, No. 13 Camry

Benny Gordon, No. 14 Camry

Matt Tifft, No. 18 Camry

Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Camry

Erik Jones, No. 20 Camry

Brandon McReynolds, No. 24 Camry

Dakoda Armstrong, No. 28 Camry

David Starr, No. 44 Camry

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