This Week in Motorsports – April 30 to May 6, 2018
Toyota Racing On-Track this Week
· MENCS/NXS/NCWTS: Dover International Speedway (Dover, Delaware) – May 4-6
· NHRA: Atlanta Dragway (Commerce, Georgia) – May 4-6
· NKNPSW: Tucson Speedway (Tucson, Arizona) – May 5
· POWRi: Valley Speedway (Grain Valley, Missouri) – May 4
Lucas Oil Speedway (Wheatland, Missouri) – May 5
NASCAR National Series – MENCS | NXS | NCWTS
Toyota Tallies at Dover… The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) heads back to Dover International Speedway where Camry drivers have won three of the last four Delaware events. Toyota’s Kyle Busch reeled in Chase Elliott last October to take the victory on the one-mile concrete oval, while Martin Truex Jr. triumphed at the track in October 2016 and former Camry driver Matt Kenseth was victorious in spring 2016. Busch also won in a Camry at the track in 2008 and 2010. The NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) will accompany the Cup Series in Dover, where Camry drivers have tallied 10 NXS victories, while Tundra drivers have eight wins in the Truck Series.
Hot Start for First-Year JGR Drivers… Joe Gibbs Racing’s (JGR) two full-time Camry NXS drivers currently sit in the top-10 in the point standings. Xfinity Series rookie Christopher Bell is fourth in the driver point standings and leads the playoff lineup entering Dover having tallied five top-five results, including a win in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. Brandon Jones ranks eighth in his first season with JGR, during which the 21-year-old has already led more laps in nine starts in 2018 (115) than he did in 71 starts over the prior three years (63). Jones posted his first top-five result since 2015 at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend and has five top-10 finishes in 2018 including a stage win.
Tundras on the Tow… After a month long break for the NCWTS, the series resumes competition at Dover on Friday. Tundra driver Noah Gragson stayed busy during the downtime by making his NXS debut, which included a pair of top-five finishes. The 19-year-old driver finished second in his first Xfinity Series race at Richmond before posting a fourth-place result at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway. Gragson ranks fifth in the Truck Series point standings with two top-five finishes in four starts, and he also has a top-five finish in his only NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start of the year. Tundra driver Brett Moffitt also sits third in the standings after winning in Atlanta and scoring three top-five results in four races this year.
NASCAR Bump and Run Stats… In two MENCS starts at Dover, Camry driver Daniel Suárez has finishes of sixth and eighth and also has an NXS Dover victory (2016) … Tundra drivers had a seven-race NCWTS win streak at Dover from 2008 to 2014 … Camry driver Erik Jones will make his 50th-career Cup Series start in a Toyota this weekend at Dover.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – Funny Car | Top Fuel
Toyota Drivers off to Fast Start… Toyota drivers have gotten off to a fast start in 2018, with four drivers combining to win five races in the season’s first six NHRA events. Camry Funny Car drivers have won each of the last three races with Cruz Pedregon winning in Charlotte this past weekend and J.R. Todd winning in Houston and Las Vegas. In addition, both Doug Kalitta (Auto Club Raceway at Pomona) and Richie Crampton (Gainesville Raceway) have won in Top Fuel.
Todd at Home in Funny Cars… A year ago at Atlanta Dragway, Todd was eliminated in the first round as he adjusted to the move to Funny Cars after a career in Top Fuel that saw him win nine races. He went through the expected growing pains throughout the first half of the season before finally breaking through for his first win in the year’s 14th race at the Toyota Sonoma Nationals. Since that victory, Todd has won four times in the past 16 races – the most of any Funny Car driver. On the strength of wins at Las Vegas and Houston, he has climbed to third in the championship standings – just 63 points out of the series lead.
Drive for Five… Antron Brown will try to become the winningest Top Fuel driver in Atlanta Dragway history this weekend with a record-breaking fifth victory at the Georgia track. He is currently tied with former Toyota driver Larry Dixon with four victories. Brown previously won at the track in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2015. A win would also make him just the fourth driver in NHRA history to earn 50 Top Fuel wins, joining Tony Schumacher, Dixon and Joe Amato.
NHRA Stats Off the Line… Toyota Top Fuel drivers have seven wins in the last 10 events in Atlanta … Kalitta won the closest Top Fuel contest in history when he defeated his Kalitta Motorsports teammate Todd by an official margin of 0.000 … Toyota driver Pedregon, who has previously won at Atlanta, snapped a 92-race winless streak with his victory in the four-wide event at Charlotte last weekend.
Regional Stock Car Racing – NASCAR K&N Pro Series | ARCA Racing Series
McGriff Straps In… The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) competes in a pair of Saturday night twin 100 races at Arizona’s Tucson Speedway. Toyota team Bill McAnally Racing (BMR) will have a fourth driver behind the wheel of a Camry, 90-year-old legendary driver and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Hershel McGriff. He’ll join BMR drivers Derek Kraus (first in points), Cole Rouse (third) and Hailie Deegan (seventh) as they look to defend the team’s 2017 victory at the three-eighths-mile desert oval.
Talking East, West and ARCA Stats… Toyota driver Kraus was victorious in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener in March … Across both the East and West Series in 2018, Toyota drivers have swept all four races with triumphs by Kraus, Tyler Dippel and two victories by Todd Gilliland … Toyota drivers have also won all four ARCA Racing Series events with two wins by Zane Smith and one each by Christian Eckes and Michael Self.
Midget Racing – USAC | POWRi
Klaasmeyer on a Roll… Toyota’s Tucker Klaasmeyer will be looking for his third-consecutive POWRi National Midget League victory Friday night at Missouri’s Valley Speedway, the first of a weekend double-header that concludes at Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri on Saturday. The Kansas native’s wins at Belle-Clair and I-55 Raceway were his first two national feature wins. Klaasmeyer enters this weekend second in the POWRi point standings.
Midget Sliding Through the Dirt Stats… Toyota-powered entries have won 11 of the 13 national midget feature races run in 2018 … Toyota drivers occupy the top five positions in the POWRi point standings with Ryan Robinson leading Klaasmeyer, Zach Daum, Andrew Felker and Logan Seavey … Robinson is the only driver to earn top-five finishes in every POWRi race this year, which includes two runner-up results … In USAC competition, Keith Kunz Motorsports driver Seavey leads the driver standings after earning his first-career victory in the Shamrock Classic in DuQuoin, Illinois in March.
Get to Know the Racer
It’s hard enough to make a name for yourself without having to do it against your dad, but Toyota development driver Todd Gilliland will match wits with his father, David Gilliland, in this weekend’s NCWTS race at Dover. Todd will make his eighth start in the Truck Series, while his father makes his first start for DGR-Crosley, the NCWTS team he co-owns.
Todd won back-to-back NKNPSW championships in 2016 and 2017, and nearly also won the East title a year ago, but finished second in the standings to his fellow up-and-coming Toyota teammate Harrison Burton. From 2015 to 2018, Todd has won 21 times across the two NASCAR regional series and ARCA in 52 races – more than 40 percent of his starts at that level – as he became the youngest winner in both the West Series and ARCA along the way.
For the elder Gilliland, this weekend’s race is his 401st combined NASCAR national series start – but his first against Todd.