Toyota Racing – Las Vegas Advance
Week of February 26 – March 4, 2018
Where Truex’ Championship Campaign Began… It was evident 2017 was Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing’s season as they dominated Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) competition en route to the championship. The No. 78 Camry team quickly mastered the new stage racing format, becoming the first – and only – team to win both stages and capture the checkered flag in the same event, which they did at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) last March, and again at Kentucky Speedway in July. As last year’s MENCS champion, Truex had more victories (eight), stage wins (19) and stage points (440) than any other driver in the garage and it all began with a win at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track.
Kyle Comes Home… Camry driver Kyle Busch grew up racing at the Bullring at LVMS in Legends cars on the three-eighths-of-a-mile oval, earning his first victory at the track in March 1999. Ten years later, he became the first Las Vegas native to win a MENCS race at the premier 1.5-mile track when he drove his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Camry to victory lane in March 2009. The 32-year-old driver also owns a NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) victory at Las Vegas (2016), and triumphed as an owner with his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, when Erik Jones (2014) took the checkered flag at LVMS. Busch will complete the triple this weekend by competing in the MENCS, NXS and NCWTS races.
Brown Takes the Wheel… Toyota NHRA driver Antron Brown will serve as the pace car driver for Sunday’s MENCS race, driving a 2018 Toyota Camry. Brown is a three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion (2012, 2015 and 2016) with 65 career victories. He is no stranger to winning at Las Vegas with four victories at the Strip at LVMS, most recently last April.
Desert Familiarity… Though Camry driver Christopher Bell will make his first NXS Vegas start this weekend, he has competed in three NCWTS Vegas races with two top-10 finishes, including a runner-up result in last year’s Truck Series race. Brandon Jones has one top-10 at the 1.5-mile oval prior to joining Joe Gibbs Racing. In addition to Busch’s 2016 NXS Vegas victory, he has started on the pole position the last two years and has led more Vegas NXS laps (521) than any other driver.
Noah Knows Vegas… Another driver coming home to Las Vegas is Noah Gragson. The 19-year-old Tundra driver is competing in his second full-time NCWTS season after finishing 10th in last year’s standings on the strength of three pole positions and 13 top-10s. Gragson won his first-career Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway last October. Like his team owner, Busch, Gragson began competing at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Bandoleros when he was 13 years old before moving up to Late Models, and he also won a Super Late Model race at the track last September. Coming off a runner-up result last weekend in Atlanta, Gragson will look to better his 13th-place showing from last September’s NCWTS race on Las Vegas oval.
Victory Looks Good on Tundra… Last weekend, Brett Moffitt drove his Tundra to victory when he finished first at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Moffitt, who also previously won in a Tundra at Michigan International Speedway in 2016, now has two NCWTS victories in just 15 starts – all in a Tundra. Since Toyota joined the NCWTS in 2004, 29 different drivers have piloted the Tundra to 171 NCWTS wins, just over 50 percent of all races Toyota has run. In 14 years of NCWTS competition, Toyota has won 10 NCWTS manufacturer championships (2006-2010, 2013-2017) and seven NCWTS driver’s championships.
Toyota Notes & Numbers at Las Vegas… Camry drivers have won three MENCS races at Las Vegas, one NXS event and six NCWTS contests … Kyle Busch has the most poles in a Toyota with 97 (26 MENCS, 53 NXS and 18 NCWTS) and could reach 100 in Vegas if he sweeps this weekend’s pole positions after earning poles in the MENCS and NCWTS races in Atlanta a week ago.