Toyota ready for Nextel Cup debut - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Toyota ready for Nextel Cup debut

February 13, 2007

Albany - 2007 is a season of change for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Circuit.

The biggest perhaps is Toyota becoming the first foreign owned automaker to race on the Cup and Busch series.

The Toyota Camry has been the best selling car in America for nine of the last ten years.

The question is it will Camry sell to longtime stock car racing fans.

Racing fan Tony Parker  said "It is called the Great American Race. However, Toyota doesn't look too bad so far."

Michael Waltrip fan  Cheryl Meadows said "No problem.  I drive a Honda so I don't have a problem with foreign cars."

 Toyota knows that not all race fans feel the same way as Cheryl Meadows.

That is why the company is letting everyone know that approximately half of the Toyotas sold in the United States are built here.

Toyota Busch Series driver Jason Leffler said "Toyota is a great company. They have set deep, deep roots in America and provided a lot of jobs for Americans.

Toyota's transition to NASCAR should be helped by the fact that two of its drivers, Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett, are two of the most popular in all of stock car racing.

Jarrett said "We know a lot about the small things that go on within and outside the sport that can help us and Toyota kind of quicken the learning curve that we are all under."

The main issue is how competitive will Toyota be on the track. Two time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip believes he has legitimate chance to be sitting in victory lane on Sunday.

Waltrip said "Everything points to we are going to be very competitive."

But so far that hasn't shown on the track.

Of the eight Toyota's entered in the Daytona 500, only Dale Jarrett and Dave Blaney are guaranteed starting spots.

And Michael Waltrip could be facing disciplinary action after by NASCAR after a unknown substance was found in his engine by inspectors.

That means Waltrip and the rest of the Toyotas will have to race their way in the Twin 150's on Thursday.

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