This Week in Motorsports – February 18 – 24, 2019
Toyota Racing On-Track this Week
· MENCS/NXS/NGOTS: Atlanta Motor Speedway (Hampton, Georgia) – Feb. 23 – 24
· NHRA: Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (Chandler, Arizona) – Feb. 22-24
NASCAR National Series – MENCS | NXS | NGOTS
Starting 2019 Off Right… Toyota drivers captured the top-three finishing positions in the season-opening MENCS race at Daytona International Speedway with Camry driver Denny Hamlin winning his second Daytona 500. Busch placed second while Erik Jones finished third. Toyota now has the opportunity to win the first two races of the year – something the manufacturer has never accomplished. Hamlin (2012) and Busch (2008, 2013) are the only two Camry drivers who have posted wins at the intermediate track. Hamlin (fourth) and Martin Truex Jr. (fifth) both posted top-five finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway last season.
History on his Heels… Kyle Busch will make his 500th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) start at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday. Of his current 499 career-series starts, Busch has made 385 in a Toyota Camry, and earned the manufacturer’s first Cup Series points win at Atlanta in 2008. In addition to the 2008 event, Busch won at the 1.5-mile track in 2013. The team owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports, Busch will also race in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) event on Saturday. If he wins, he will become the all-time series wins leader with 52 victories. Busch is currently tied at 51 wins with Ron Hornaday Jr.
Georgia On My Mind… Toyota drivers Brandon Jones and Austin Hill return home this weekend when they race at Atlanta Motor Speedway as both drivers hail from Georgia. A NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) driver and native of Atlanta, Jones makes his fourth series start at the 1.5-mile track and heads into the race with the championship point standings lead after finishing third at Daytona. Hill, a native of Winston, will make his fourth NGOTS Atlanta start after winning his first-career series race at Daytona last Friday and becoming the first driver to make the 2019 NGOTS Playoffs.
Supra Star… After making its NASCAR debut at Daytona, the Toyota Supra hits an intermediate track for the first time with NXS drivers set to compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Marking the first time Toyota has run a car other than the Camry in NASCAR competition, Supra drivers are in a race to be the first to log a win in the new nameplate. Taking a look at Toyota Racing history, the late Jason Leffler captured Toyota’s first Camry win at Lucas Oil Raceway (Indiana) in 2007 while the first Tundra winner was Travis Kvapil in 2004 at Michigan International Speedway. Whoever brings home the first Supra win will not only etch their name in history as the first winner in the car, but also as the driver to give Toyota 150 NXS victories.
NHRA – Top Fuel | Funny Car
Kalitta Shoots For Two in a Row… After winning the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Doug Kalitta looks to become just the second driver in more than 20 years to open the season with two-consecutive Top Fuel wins this weekend in Phoenix. Kalitta earned his third Winternationals title in spectacular fashion as he became just the third Top Fuel driver to register three wins on hole-shots in one event – no driver has ever had four. The win was the 45th of his Top Fuel career.
Brown Looks For Fourth Phoenix Win… Antron Brown will be shooting for his fourth Top Fuel win at Wild Horse Motorsports Pass. The three-time world champion won at the track in 2009, 2012 and 2014. Only Tony Schumacher has more Top Fuel wins at the Arizona track. Overall, Toyota-supported drivers have won five times at the Arizona Nationals as former Toyota competitor Larry Dixon also won in Top Fuel in 2011, while former Camry Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria won the 2014 crown.
Shining Bright at Arizona Spring Training…Camry Funny Car drivers J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon will try to pick up where they left off at the NHRA Spring Training test session in Phoenix earlier this month where both drivers ran in the top four overall during the four-day test session. Todd is eying his fifth win in the last nine NHRA events after winning four of the last seven on the way to the world championship in 2018, while Langdon will attempt to capture his first Funny Car win after taking home 14 Top Fuel Wallys and the 2013 Top Fuel championship.