Jeff Gordon was right.
Even when Toyota struggled last year, its first in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, the four-time NASCAR champion admitted: "We know they're coming."
Sparked by its new alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota has won 8 of 21 Cup events this season, and 15 of 23 in the Nationwide Series. All have been by Gibbs' drivers, with Kyle Busch earning 13 checkered flags. Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano also have put the Camry into victory lane.
Four other Toyota teams have added seven wins in 14 Craftsman Truck races. Busch has contributed two and championship leader Johnny Benson has three. The Tundra entered that series in 2004.
In total, Toyota has won 30 of 58 races in NASCAR's three national touring series. Since the automaker's entry into Cup was controversial with some in NASCAR's traditional fan base, accustomed to their favorites driving for Ford, General Motors or Chrysler, what has been their reaction to Toyota's 50 percent-plus win rate?
"NASCAR's most recent research shows only 6 percent feel negative about Toyota's participation," Toyota national motorsports marketing manager Les Unger explained via e-mail, "with 50 percent favorable, and the remainder neutral.
"Toyota's most recent market research dovetails closely, with overall acceptance increasing since 2004 to 49 percent, and negative responses falling to 9 percent."
NASCAR recently imposed restrictions on Toyota's Nationwide engine, estimated to have cut 15 horsepower. Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development, said he was "extremely disappointed" and that "the real impact will be felt by the teams as they adjust to the change, work to remain competitive . . . and attempt to line up their sponsorships for next year."
Busch said "a lot of whiney complainers got their way."
Unger said Toyota, which recently marked its 50th anniversary of doing business in America, is in NASCAR "for the long haul."
"Our objectives are to help grow the sport, touch the fan base, enhance our brand and build internal pride within the Toyota family that includes dealership personnel and team members at 10 manufacturing facilities within this country." - azcentral.com