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Toyota qualifies for first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

Kvapil's third leads seven Tundras in top 20

Toyota began its new NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program with seven Tundra race trucks qualifying in the top 20 on Wednesday night as the manufacturer prepares for its inaugural race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13. Defending Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, driving the No. 24 Line-X Bedliners Toyota Tundra for Bang! Racing, lead the contingent by qualifying third overall. Robert Huffman, in the No. 12 Toyota-sponsored Tundra, also qualified in the top 10 with an eighth-place position driving for Innovative Motorsports, Inc. (IMI). Huffman was the second fastest qualifying NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie out of 12 rookie qualifiers. The session saw 40 trucks take qualifying runs to fill 32 positions for the season-opening race. The final four of the 36 starting spots in Friday's race were filled by contingency points. The equally matched Tundra race trucks finished qualifying bunched together in the starting field after completing their laps within 0.4 seconds of each other. Five Toyotas occupied the next seven qualifying positions, lead by Hank Parker Jr.'s 11th-place qualification in the No. 21 Daytona U.S.A. Toyota Tundra for IMI. Right behind Parker in 12th was rookie David Reutimann in the No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota Tundra for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports. 1995 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner qualified his No. 42 Toyota-sponsored Tundra race truck in 14th place for Bang! Racing after qualifying early in the session with gusty wind conditions. Craftsman Truck Series rookie Shelby Howard qualified in 15th place in the No. 23 Toyota Tundra for Bill Davis Racing, while his teammate Bill Lester, driving the No. 22 LidRock Toyota Tundra, was close behind in 17th place. The five Tundras who qualified between 11th and 17th were within 0.2 seconds of each other. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season-opening race on Friday, Feb. 13 will be run at night for the first time at the historic Daytona International Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel beginning at 8 p.m. EST.

QUOTES

  • JIM AUST - Vice President of Motorsports, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.- "One of our main objectives heading into Toyota's debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was to qualify all seven Toyota Tundras for our first race. To have everyone qualify and put two trucks in top ten is unbelievable. We are very happy with a solid first day of competition in one of NASCAR's most competitive series and hope that this sets the foundation for a solid first weekend of racing."
  • ROBERT HUFFMAN - No. 12 Toyota Tundra- "Qualifying definitely exceeded my expectations. It's pretty big to see all the Toyotas in the field do so well right away. It's great to qualify so well for our first race."
  • DAVID REUTIMANN - No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota Tundra- "We were better every time we went out. The people at Toyota, TRD and Darrell Waltrip Motorsports worked around the clock to make this happen and it's a great feeling to put the truck in the field for them."
  • MIKE SKINNER - No. 42 Toyota Tundra- "It got extremely loose or we could have run an even faster lap but we will darn sure take that one. The folks at TRD have really stepped it up and given us some horsepower and we'll race the hell out of it."
  • SHELBY HOWARD- No. 23 Toyota Tundra - "The Tundra felt good. It has really been a group effort to get us this far and it's starting to pay off. Now we can look forward to some drafting practice and the race."
  • BILL LESTER- No. 22 LidRock Toyota Tundra - "We picked up half-a-second from practice so we are ecstatic. We knew we wouldn't challenge for the pole but the top 15 right out of the box is fantastic."
  • HANK PARKER, JR.- No. 21 Daytona U.S.A. Toyota Tundra - This is really a team track. They get the truck ready and you go out and hit your marks. We didn't have a lot of laps on the track today, but we got better every time we went out and it was good when it paid off the most. Now I can't wait for the race to start."
  • TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 24 LINE-X Toyota Tundra- I knew we'd do well, but not this well. I'm really happy for the Bang! team. They've worked really hard to get here. Toyota didn't have a lot of time to fine-tune the engine, but they should be very proud of the improvements they made from testing in January."
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