Toyota set to win first manufacturers’ championship

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Regardless of who wins Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, at least one championship is virtually certain to change hands when the checkered flag drops.

If one of the Toyotas in the race — any of the Toyotas — finishes 26th or better, Toyota will take it first NASCAR Sprint Cup Manufacturers’ Championship in its 10th try.

Significantly, if Toyota does win, this will be the first season since 2002 that Chevrolet hasn’t won the award.

In an exclusive interview with Thursday, Toyota’s U.S. racing boss said that while winning the manufacturers’ title will be an important milestone for the company and its employees, what he really wants is a second consecutive driver championship.

“I would without hesitation trade all the manufacturers’ championships in the world for a driver’s championship,” said David Wilson, the president of TRD, U.S.A. “Because that’s what this sport is.”

As for the manufacturers’ title, Wilson said, “I would love that to be the icing on the cake, with the cake being another driver’s championship.”

In that respect, Wilson said, the team title is very different in NASCAR than in Formula One or IndyCar, which are less driver-centric.

The manufacturers’ title will come in Toyota’s 10th season of trying and with only two fully funded teams — the four cars from Joe Gibbs Racing and one from Furniture Row Racing.

“What I’m most proud of is that we’re going to do it having basically five cars on the track capable of winning,” said Wilson. “That’s hard to do.”

And with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards still in the field, there’s a 50-50 chance of getting another driver title, too.

“What’s good about having two drivers (in the final) is you have two bullets in your gun,” said Wilson. “If something happens — if Kyle loses a tire or something unexpected happens, then you have another shot at it. Certainly, we’re excited.”

Sunday’s championship race will feature the Toyotas of Busch and Edwards, Joey Logano’s Team Penske Ford and Jimmie Johnson in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“It’s great that all three manufacturers are going to be able to fight for a championship,” said Wilson. “If we are fortunate enough to win a championship this year, it will mean even more because we beat not just Chevy but we beat Ford as well.”