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NASCAR Cup: Toyota wants to keep its car count at five or more

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 16: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series SouthPoint 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson said during a recent interview on the “Tradin’ Paint” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Toyota planned to keep its car count in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at at least five in 2019. To do that, a replacement would need to be found for the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team of reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., as that team will shut down at the end of the 2018 season.

“We’re spending a tremendous amount of energy and focus on that, of course,” Wilson said of the effort to find a replacement for Furniture Row Racing. “Nobody is happy. Nobody is pleased with losing Furniture Row. It’s something we’re all disappointed with. We, at the same tim,e respect the very difficult decision (FRR owner) Barney Visser had to make. So as an OEM, we need to try and again put ourselves in the best competitive positioning going forward. That alliance we had going the past three years has been simply magical and something we’ve enjoyed a tremendous amount of success with. I’ve said this before, but we would not have won our first manufacturer championship without both Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing performing at the levels that they have been, let alone our second manufacturer’s championship we won last year.”

Leavine Family Racing owner Bob Leavine would like to be that replacement, as he has already expressed interest in a manufacturer switch from Chevrolet to Toyota ahead of the 2019 season.

“In our talking to the manufacturers this year, Toyota has been head-and-shoulders above the rest so far,” Leavine said. “Everything we have investigated and done with Toyota has felt good from one end of the spectrum, the technical, to just the relationship basis.”

Leavine Family Racing, which fields the No. 95, already has announced the end of its technical alliance with Chevrolet team Richard Childress Racing.

A few back-marker teams field Toyotas without manufacturer support. Toyotas receiving manufacturer support in 2018 include Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 and four Joe Gibbs Racing entries — the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, the No. 19 of Daniel Suarez and the No. 20 of Erik Jones.

Truex’s championship from last years and one from Busch in 2015 give Toyota two Cup Series driver championships in the last three years. Both of those drivers are among the 12 remaining in this year’s playoffs. Hamlin and Jones were eliminated Sept. 30 in the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Suarez failed to make the playoffs. Busch, Truex and Jones have combined to give Toyota 12 wins in the first 29 races this year. Busch was the 2018 regular-season champion.

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Posted by on October 5, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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