The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for the first race of the Round of 12. There’s no denying that Toyota has had a crazy year, with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. leading the pack.
Toyota asserted its dominance with the first race of the 2016 season as Hamlin took the checkered flag to win the Daytona 500, one of the crown jewel events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Fellow Toyota drivers, Martin Truex Jr. and reigning champion, Kyle Busch, placed second and third, respectively, for a Toyota sweep of the podium.
It was the first Daytona 500 victory for Toyota since they began competing in the Sprint Cup Series in 2007. The 2016 season has seen Toyota in victory lane in 15 of 29 races and they enter the next championship round with Truex at the top of the standings.
Truex has won four races this season in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Camry and three of those have come in the last five races, with wins at Darlington Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
But Truex is not alone. All five of the Toyota Chase contenders have advanced to the second round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Busch is currently third in the championship standings with four victories in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry followed in fourth place by his JGR teammate Matt Kenseth, with two wins in the No. 20 Camry.
Hamlin has captured three checkered flags in the JGR No. 11 Camry this season and is ninth in the standings while his JGR teammate, Carl Edwards, with two victories in his No. 19 Camry, is in 10th place.
As the Sprint Cup Series travels to Charlotte for the Bank of America 500 race, Truex has established himself as the leading contender for the 2016 championship title and a favorite to win the Bank of America 500. The last time the Cup Series visited Charlotte Motor Speedway, in May, for the Coca-Cola 600, Truex set a track record by leading 392 of 400 laps to capture his first win of the season.
His biggest threats this weekend may come from Team Penske driver Joey Logano, who won this race last year, and Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, who has a record seven victories at the track. But Truex’s Toyota rivals will almost assuredly be factors, as well.
Busch has 38 Sprint Cup wins to his credit and has won at every active track except for two, Charlotte and Pocono. There’s no doubt that he would love to add one more track to his win total and with the second-best driver rating at Charlotte (104.6), he will certainly be one to watch.
Will Toyota prevail at Charlotte and claim their 16th win of the season? Tune into the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night as the Round of 12 begins and the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship continues.