Championship pursuits began over the weekend in NHRA and NASCAR where Toyota drivers J.R. Todd – who won in his Camry Funny Car – and Martin Truex Jr. now lead their respective series standings. Toyota drivers also won ARCA and POWRi races to give Toyota three victories in three different states over the weekend. Additionally, top-five finishes by Fredric Aasbø and Ryan Tuerck helped Toyota unofficially clinch the Formula DRIFT manufacturer’s title.
As the highest-finishing Camry driver, Martin Truex Jr. earned a third-place result in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which was won by Brad Keselowski. Kyle Busch (seventh) rebounded from early trouble to earn his 22nd top-10 of the season. Toyota playoff drivers Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones were involved in incidents, and finished 32nd and 40th, respectively.
“All in all it was a great day for everybody on the Bass Pro/5-hour ENERGY Camry and all the guys did a phenomenal job this weekend,” said Truex. “Thanks to all the guys back in Denver at the shop, it’s pretty cool to see the effort going into these last 10 – we’re going to get after them. We had a winning car, just didn’t work out for us today. Really proud of the effort.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) closed out their regular season at Las Vegas on Saturday where Camry driver Christopher Bell (fourth) was the top-finishing Toyota driver. Ryan Preece (sixth) and Brandon Jones (seventh) also earned top-10 finishes in a race won by Ross Chastain. Bell and Jones will compete in the NXS playoffs set to begin Friday at Richmond Raceway.
“We won at Richmond in the spring,” said Bell as the series heads into the playoffs. “I think we’ll be in really good shape. This team does a great job at building really fast cars. For the most part, we always contend for the wins. I am really happy about that.”
Toyota drivers earned two top-10 finishes in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Las Vegas with Austin Theriault (eighth) and Chris Eggleston (10th), behind NCWTS race winner Grant Enfinger.
Toyota driver Hailie Deegan won the pole position – the first female to do so in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series – and won her heat race in Thursday’s K&N West event at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas. However in the feature she couldn’t hold off race winner Sheldon Creed to equal her career-best runner-up result.
J.R. Todd drove his Toyota Camry Funny Car to victory in Sunday’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway, taking championship points lead after the first round of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
"It's awesome to keep the momentum going, but we still have a long road ahead of us,” said Todd, who has now won two straight Funny Car events and four overall this season. “These DHL/Wix Filter Toyota guys know how to win. A lot of them were here when Del Worsham won the title in 2015. It was nice to be able to come out of here with a win.”
This was also a milestone victory for Kalitta Motorsports – their 100th.
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown advanced to the semi-finals to move up to fifth in the point standings.
Fredric Aasbø earned a third-place showing as the top-finishing Toyota entry in Formula DRIFT’s ‘Round 7: Showdown’ at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday. Toyota 86 driver Ryan Tuerck earned a fifth-place result in an event won by Piotr Wiecek.
The finishes also propelled Toyota to a 218 point lead in the FD manufacturer’s standings, unofficially clinching their fifth straight title.
Toyota driver Chandler Smith led all but one lap in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series event at Indiana’s Salem Speedway to win his second race of the season and Toyota’s 16th ARCA victory this year.
Logan Seavey led Tanner Carrick across the finish line to claim a Toyota one-two result at Jacksonville Speedway Friday night, while Saturday’s event saw Tucker Klaasmeyer earn runner-up at Spoon River Speedway in the weekend’s POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header in Illinois.
NASCAR heads to Virginia’s Richmond Raceway this weekend where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes playoffs to a Saturday night showdown September 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. NASCAR Xfinity Series races on September 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
NHRA continue their countdown at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis September 21-23.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22 with the race scheduled to air September 27 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Lisa Hughes Kennedy