• Oct 16th 2006 at 7:40PM
  • 30
When former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott failed to qualify a Dodge for last weekend's Bank of America 500 for new team Red Bull Racing, which is one of the three Toyota teams for the company's inaugural Nextel Cup season in 2007, it cast a harsh spotlight on the steep learning curve facing Toyota's teams as they venture into the upper echelon of left-turn-only racing.

In the words of Lee White, senior VP for Toyota Racing Development, "I see light at the end of the tunnel, but there's still a mountain to climb."

Dodge, which re-entered Cup racing in 2000 after a 23-year layoff, could tell Toyota just how high that mountain can be - despite the best efforts of superstar team managers Ray Evernham and Roger Penske, it was only this year that Evernham Motorsports' Kasey Kahne (who won this weekend) started to make regular appearances in victory lane.

The learning curve will be even steeper for Toyota's teams, as they struggle to develop both a current-spec Nextel Cup streamliner with the Camry badge, and NASCAR's "Car of Tomorrow" racer (shown above in its Camry guise), which makes its part-time debut in selected races next year. (Rumor has it that NASCAR is pushing for the COT to be used as soon as the Bud Shootout in the run-up to the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.)

[Source: Boston Herald]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I hope Toyota fails miserably in NASCAR - their unethical, dishonest, criminal behavior in the Craftsman Truck Series should give everyone reason to turn their backs on Toyota and to throw glass in the path of every NASCAR racecar with Toyota on its front end.

      • 8 Years Ago
      #27, if Toyota does things only one way - the right way - do explain why it has taken Toyota three attempts and nearly 15 YEARS to come up with a full-size truck that is competitive - on paper - with the domestic full-size trucks. And tell us why it took Toyota nearly 20 years to come up with a truly competitive minivan in the second-generation Sienna(do you remember the first-generation Toyota minivan? I do).

      Feel free to start making the usual excuses while you explain it("Toyota takes their time, Toyota never gives up," and the rest of them).
      • 8 Years Ago
      my first NASCAR race was dalington 1955 as we drove 2 55 chevys down raced them and drove the back home to PA. we drove the race cars to the tracks till 1957 when we raced a FI 57 in the beach race. i am also a former NASCAR tech inspector so i get to find out what is going on. chevy will have a "new" NASCAR engine at daytona this year. the engine has the cam tunnel moved up so they can use shorter stiffer pushrods and the distributor is moved to the front of the engine to get away from the twisting of a camshaft causing timing fluctations.
      • 8 Years Ago
      i am sure with the help of the superior japanese engineers that toyota will come to dominate nascar. this will help make nascar an international series. maybe then it will gain some real manufacturers and lose those incompetants from the american car companies.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have sold toyotas for almost 20 years. they do things one way the right way. gm and ford are all mouth and no action. the comment that a car had to haul whiskey to be in NASCAR is baloney! the ford fusions are built in mexico. so i quess they are hauling tequila? and the chevy aveo built in Korea,comes with a load of saki. do a little research and you will see gm and ford sending job oversea while toyota, honda and nissan comes to the US to build plants and employ tens of thousand americans. if you will look beyond your 6th grade education you will find that the vehicle that won WWII is now owned by the germans. what next beer steins at NASCAR.
      • 8 Years Ago
      JAPCAR... priceless :)

      So, anybody remember when Toyota/TRD Thought they could go NHRA Drag racing with a "Celica"... still rotflmao about that one...

      Toyota will be more than willing to throw as much $$ as necessary to make this thing work for them - just like the truck series. It's their common history throughout motorsports, whether it's in the US or elsewhere. I wouldn't really consider the present day truck series as gaining popularity by any means, and I would contribute quite a bit of that to the introduction of Toyota.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Too bad Toyota isn't trying to get into the WRC. At least with rally cars they're street legal, so if you squint at them, you can kind of pretend that its the same car we're able to buy.

      Its so weird that they're called "stock" cars, when there is nothing stock about them. That is not a Camry, its just a 1000hp vehicle built by a team sponsored by TuRD.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Did Toyota really think there were just going to jump in and start dominating? I remember when Toyota started F1 racing they talked like they'd be dominating world champs in less than two years. It's a joke, they think they can just start in racing throw millions at a team and win. Many times money does win, but as Toyota has seen many times it doesn't.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As a long-time fan of NASCAR(25+ years), it's sad and painful to see the sport go down the IROC(read: boring!!!) road. This homogenized form of racing, the term "racing" used rather loosely, is decimating the sport, to the detriment of the true, hard-core racing fan. But that's what you get when NASCAR hands control over to "marketing professionals" and neglects its base.

      NASCAR has always resented the power and the influence that the manufacturers have had over the sport. For decades, the sanctioning body has struggled to find a way to maintain supremacy over the manufacturers without giving up the money they pump into the sport. NASCAR has finally found a way to do it - through this "Car of Tomorrow" garbage. It will wind up backfiring on them, as I believe that at least one OEM will drop out of the sport within the next two years. This sport has topped out, and it is set for a decline. In a way, I'm somewhat surprised that Toyota even wanted in.

      The old adage is still true - "just follow the smell of money" ... and to his credit, Brian France has done an outstanding job of following the smell of money.
      • 8 Years Ago
      DRFS RIch- go ahead and "love" it- but I'll bet YOU won't be the loyal fans that we were.
      One other comment- someone said that the COT would be a big loser: I think it is already a big loser. Give us back our racing league, NASCAR. Your fair weather friends won't support JAPCAR very long, especially when tyotie screws up the series like they did with the trucks.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #27- I'll try to overlook your childish remarks, since you so obviously finished 8th grade with a deficit. I'll take my two advanced degrees and go slink back to my desk- not! I once was sucked in to the japs with their inferior automobiles (sold datsuns for 5 1/2 years, have owned 12 datsun products, 1 tyotie, none as good as the worst GM vehicle I've ever owned, BTW), but I've since seen the light. Nothing but GM for me for the rest of my life. tyotie's right way is to hide their problems and hope that, when they're caught, they can bribe their way out of trouble. hondoo had a problem with that, too, you know.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Toyota and motorsports don't mix. Toyota is the worst manufacturer team in F1, but spends the most money.
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