NASCAR and Toyota announced Monday the manufacturer's plans to expand its racing program by competing in the Nextel Cup and Busch series starting in 2007, fielding the Camry model.
The expansion will follow three years of Toyota competing in the 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 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, Ú.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 Únited States, and we will be joining the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, America's premier racing series.
'Toyota has been an important part of the Ú.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.'
Engine : 5.9 L., 8-cylinder
Power: 850 hp
Torque: 550 ft-lbs
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 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 Goody's Dash title.
In 2004, Toyota entered the 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 Truck competition, Tundra drivers have recorded 13 victories and 18 poles.Source - Toyota/NASCAR
The NEXTEL Cup Series is one of three premier national series, along with the Busch Series and the Craftsman truck series, sanctioned by the National Association for Stock car Racing (NASCAR). Since its inception in 1948, NASCAR's national headquarters is located in Dayton Beach, Fla., with additional offices in New York City, NY; Los Angeles, California; Charlotte, NC; Concord, NC; Conover, NC; and Bentonville, Ark. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series features 35 championship points' races at 22 tracks in 19 states including the Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami areas.
In 2007, Toyota, debuts as a manufacturer in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, with 3 teams of 7 Camry's: Bill Davis Racing (2), Michael Waltrip Racing (3), and Team Red Bull (2).