Toyota drivers will compete in NASCAR and NHRA action over the weekend, including the manufacturer’s namesake Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Northern California.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) will visit Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway this weekend, while the NASCAR XFINITY Series will compete in Iowa.
Toyota racers are seeking their 100th win in the Cup Series as they return to Pocono, where Camry drivers have four MENCS victories. Since entering the Cup Series in 2007, Toyota drivers have amassed 99 total victories, including a triumph by Matt Kenseth at Pocono in August 2015, the manufacturer’s most-recent win at the track.
Kenseth, who will sport the ToyotaCare colors on his No. 20 Camry this weekend, is coming off back-to-back top-five results as he fights to secure a 2017 playoff berth. The Camry driver currently sits 16th in the playoff standings in the final spot that will transition into the postseason. He currently holds a 33-point advantage over his closest competition.
In addition to Kenseth’s Toyota victory at Pocono, Camry driver Denny Hamlin has two Toyota wins at the track – and four total victories at the triangular-shaped circuit – and former Camry driver Joey Logano also won at Pocono.
The MENCS races at Pocono on Sunday, July 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET and the race will be broadcast on NBCSN.
The NCWTS will make just its eighth appearance at Pocono where Tundra drivers have back-to-back wins.
Kyle Busch triumphed at the track in 2015 and former Tundra driver William Byron captured the checkered flag at the track a year ago. Now Tundra drivers return to Pocono coming off back-to-back wins at Kentucky Speedway and Ohio’s Eldora Speedway by Christopher Bell and Matt Crafton, respectively.
Last week’s winner, Crafton, is one Top10 away from tying the NCWTS record of 234 set by Ron Hornaday Jr. The two-time NCWTS champion has earned 233 top-10 finishes in 395 consecutive series starts – also a series record. He has four top-10 results at the 2.5-mile track in seven starts, which leads the field of current drivers.
The NCWTS will run on the 2.5-mile track on Saturday, July 29 at 1:00 p.m. ET with the action televised on FOX.
With the MENCS and NCWTS in Pennsylvania, the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) will visit Iowa Speedway for the second time this season.
Dakoda Armstrong finished fifth as the top Toyota driver when the series visited the 0.875-mile track in June and Camry drivers have combined to record four NXS victories in Iowa. Erik Jones captured the most-recent Camry victory at the track in July 2016.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Benjamin will compete in his fourth-career NXS race this weekend at Iowa. He has started from the second position twice and earned his first NXS pole position in only his second career start. At Iowa Speedway, Benjamin has one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win from the pole position (2016) and also started first at the 0.875-mile track in the 2016 ARCA event.
The Iowa NXS race will take place on Saturday, July 29 at 3:30 p.m. ET and will air on NBC.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West (NKNPSE and NKNPSW) together join the NXS in Iowa for the combined racing event where both regional series go head-to-head showcasing stock car’s future racers in one power-packed race.
Toyota’s Todd Gilliland continues his campaign to win both the East and West Series championships. The 2016 NKNPSW champion holds an 11-point advantage in the West Series point standings and trails fellow Toyota teenage driver Harrison Burton by just 14 points in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
The 17 year-old has made 17 starts across the East and West Series this year with a combined six wins – four in the West and two in the East – while the 16-year-old Burton has four victories in nine NKNPSE starts this year.
The NKNPSE/NKNPSW event takes place at Iowa Speedway on Friday, July 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The race will be taped for broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, August 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
If Toyota’s Antron Brown can claim a Top Fuel victory in the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, he’ll have a chance at sweeping the NHRA’s Western Swing.
Brown was the last Top Fuel driver to sweep the West Coast trio of races back in 2009, and after a victory at Denver this past weekend, the three-time world champ is on pace to make a run at a second sweep. To complete the task, Brown will need a victory this weekend and at Seattle’s Pacific Raceways the following week. To date, he has won a combined nine races at the three tracks and is the defending winner in Seattle.
Toyota Top Fuel drivers enter this weekend’s action having won the last eight races at Sonoma. J.R. Todd won in Northern California in 2016, Antron Brown took top honors four times (2009, 2011-12, 2015), while Khalid alBalooshi (2014), Shawn Langdon (2013) and Larry Dixon (2010) have each grabbed a Wally in Sonoma.
Ironically, fellow Toyota driver Doug Kalitta is the all-time leader in Top Fuel wins at the track with five – but all prior to joining the Toyota team.
Toyota is in its second year as the sponsor of the NHRA event at Sonoma Raceway. In addition, the manufacturer has also served as co-title sponsor of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event since 2007, as well as the raceway's official vehicle.
The Toyota NRHA Sonoma Nationals will air on FS1 from Friday through Sunday, July 28-30. Friday’s qualifying will air live at 11:00 p.m. ET, while Saturday’s qualifying will be tape delayed for 10:00 p.m. ET. The event’s finals will air live on FS1 on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Lisa Hughes Kennedy