Toy­ota: Look­ing for win

The Covington News - - Sports -

“A year ago, we were scram­bling be­cause we had the old gen­er­a­tion car and the new gen­er­a­tion car,” he ex­plained. “We couldn’t have cho­sen a tougher year to start this project.

“And we had to build a new en­gine and that takes time to get it right.”

An­other key, of course, is steal­ing away JGR, owner of three of the last seven Cup ti­tles, with two-time cham­pion Tony Ste­wart and ris­ing stars Denny Ham­lin and Kyle Busch as its cur­rent driv­ers.

Ste­wart fin­ished sec­ond be­hind the Chevro­let of Dale Earn­hardt Jr. in last Satur­day night’s 70-lap ex­hi­bi­tion race, the first event of the sea­son. It ap­peared he could eas­ily have won with a lit­tle more draft­ing help.

Jeff Bur­ton, who drives a Chevro­let for Richard Chil­dress Rac­ing, said he isn’t sur­prised by Toy­ota’s show­ing thus far.

“All the fo­cus on Toy­ota has been with adding Gibbs, but I be­lieve the other teams are stronger too,” Bur­ton said. “You know Toy­ota came in and in­creased the car count, made it tougher for ev­ery­body in­clud­ing them­selves.

“Ev­ery team has had to re­spond to that and ev­ery team has had to be stronger to that. If you look back on it, I’m not sure there was a Toy­ota team at any point that was re­ally locked into the races (in qual­i­fy­ing), so they had to pretty much earn their way in ev­ery week. I think that we will see some of those teams re­verse that course this year.”

With Wal­trip al­ready on the front row and team­mate David Reu­ti­mann and Blaney, the fourth and fifth fastest driv­ers last Sun­day, as­sured of be­ing in the lineup for the 500, ev­ery­one has taken no­tice of Toy­ota.

Rick Hendrick, owner of the pow­er­ful Hendrick Mo­tor­sports team that in­cludes Earn­hardt, pole-win­ner and two-time reign­ing Cup cham­pion Jim­mie John­son, four-time cham­pion Jeff Gor­don and Casey Mears, is also ex­pect­ing Toy­ota to be tough in the 500, as well as se­ri­ous con­tenders for the rest of the sea­son.

“Th­ese Toy­otas are aw­fully fast,” Hendrick said.

“I pre­dict this will be one of the best years we have had in NASCAR, with a lot of dif­fer­ent win­ners and a very com­pet­i­tive sea­son.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.