Toyota made its NASCAR debut...
Toyota made its NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series last season.
Toyota is expected to shift the money it is spending on open wheelracing in America to NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series and its Busch Series asearly as 2007.
The Japanese automaker announced late in June that it would abandon theIndy Racing League and the Toyota Atlantic series at the end of the '06season. Last week, Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager,confirmed to Stock Car Racing that Toyota Racing Development is workingon a car chassis it has already submitted to NASCAR for approval.
"We've built a car," Unger said. "At this point, it is strictly fordevelopment and testing purposes."
But Unger said the car has been presented to NASCAR to be sure it willmeet the templates. "I expect it will spend some time in the windtunnel," he said. "If the process proves positive, then there is thepossibility that in 2006 we'll do some testing only. There will be nocompetition that year."
Todd Bodine's win at Kansas...
Todd Bodine's win at Kansas Speedway was Toyota's first victory in theTruck Series this season.
Unger declined to speculate if the car under study would be raced as aCamry, Avalon, or Solara, or if Toyota may have another name on themarket by 2007.
"It doesn't make a lot of difference what we call it," Unger said. "Itstill has to fit the templates."
While the '07 season may seem like a long way off, Toyota will probablyhave to make a decision on its plans before the end of the year.
"It takes 18 months to two years to get a program ready," Unger said."We have to always look that far down the road."
Among the considerations is what the cars will look like and what willpower them in 2007.
"We keep hearing about NASCAR's 'car of tomorrow' and 'engine oftomorrow,' but nothing has a date yet," he said.
NASCAR has been developing new chassis rules aimed at making cars saferand engine rules to reduce cost and control horsepower, but has yet tofinalize either component.
"We're going to all the meetings," Unger said. "We know what everybodyelse knows."
Unger emphasized that Toyota's future in Nextel Cup or Busch racing isstill in the R&D stage.
"There's a lot to consider," Unger said. "There are a lot of options outthere."