This Week in Motorsports – May 13-19, 2019
Toyota Racing On-Track this Week
· MENCS/NGOTS: Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, North Carolina) – May 17-18
· NHRA: Virginia Motorsports Park (North Dinwiddie, Virginia) – May 17-19
· ARCA: Toledo Speedway (Toledo, Ohio) – May 19
· USAC: Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, Illinois) – May 17-18
NASCAR National Series – MENCS | NGOTS
All-Star Showdown… Drivers will compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway where all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have secured starting positions after winning a race last season. Kyle Busch has the most All-Star starts with 12 appearances while Denny Hamlin has 11 and Martin Truex Jr. has seven. Meanwhile, this will be Erik Jones first All-Star appearance. In total, Toyota drivers have won two All-Star races with Busch earning one win in the 2017 exhibition race while Hamlin was also victorious in 2015.
Don’t Count Him Out… While Matt DiBenedetto has not earned a spot in the All-Star race, it’s not too late to race his way in. DiBenedetto will compete in the Monster Energy Open, which includes three segments. Each segment winner will advance to the main event. Multiple Toyota drivers have raced their way into the All-Star race, including Truex (2010), as well as former Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (2017), Clint Bowyer (2014-15) and A.J. Allmendinger (2008). If DiBenedetto doesn’t win a segment, he has one final chance to make the starting field – the fan vote. Toyota has steadfastly supported DiBenedetto’s fan vote, encouraging Toyota team members to vote through digital signage at Toyota’s headquarters in Plano, Texas and online employee platforms.
Major Key to Charlotte… Experience bodes well in the Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway with long-time series competitors finding their way to victory lane since 2013. Busch (2017, 2013-14) has tallied three of those wins in addition to former Tundra driver Matt Crafton (2016). A young Toyota Racing lineup looks to alter history with Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton and Austin Hill all making a combined three starts at the 1.5-mile track. In fact, Burton will make his first series start at Charlotte after turning 18 years old following last year’s event. But don’t count out the veterans either. Following a brief break from competition, Busch returns to the Truck Series after winning all four events he has competed in this season.
NHRA – Top Fuel | Funny Car
Kalitta Eyes Fifth Win… Kalitta Motorsports looks to earn its fifth victory of the 2019 season this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park, but what makes that even more impressive is that all four drivers on the team have already won this season. No other team has seen more than two of its drivers reach the winner’s circle in the first seven races. Kalitta Top Fuel drivers have won in Pomona, California (Doug Kalitta) and Gainesville, Florida (Richie Crampton), while Camry drivers J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon came out on top in Funny Car in Las Vegas, Nevada and Charlotte, North Carolina, respectively.
Brown Looks To Add Virginia To Trophy Case… Three-time world champion Antron Brown has won at least one race at every track on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule except two – Virginia Motorsports Park and Bristol Dragway. He’ll attempt to scratch Virginia Motorsports Park off the list this weekend. The long-time Toyota driver advanced to the finals at the Virginia track in 2009 before it dropped off the schedule until rejoining the series last year. After an overhaul of his Toyota team last year, Brown has been surging of late – advancing to the finals at Houston Raceway Park and then registering the fastest pass of race day at the most recent event in Atlanta.
Regional Stock Car Racing – ARCA
Keep the Streak Alive… Toyota drivers have won nine-straight races in the ARCA Menards Series, dating back to September 3, 2018 at DuQuoin (Illinois) State Fairgrounds. The series heads to Toledo Speedway this weekend where former Toyota driver Zane Smith won his second-straight event last year. In the last five events at the 0.5-mile paved oval, Toyota drivers have secured four victories with former Toyota driver Justin Boston (2014), current development drivers Gilliland (2015) and Burton (2017) and Smith (2018) each tallying one win.
New Kid on the Block… Toyota Racing development driver Hailie Deegan will make her ARCA Menards Series debut at the Toledo Speedway on Sunday where she will drive for Venturini Motorsports. It will be the first of six scheduled ARCA appearances for Deegan, who will also race at Pocono Raceway, Madison Int’l Speedway, Elko Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway and Kansas Speedway.
Midget Racing – USAC
Thomas Leads Toyota Into Granite City… Kevin Thomas Jr., will lead an expected 13 Toyota-powered entries into this weekend’s USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series double-header at Illinois’ Tri-City Speedway. Thomas won the series most recent event at Kokomo Speedway and enters the weekend second in points, just four points out of the top spot. Fellow Toyota driver C.J. Leary currently sits third in the point standings.
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