Toyota and Chevy Truck teams announced for 2004
Posted: Friday November 14, 2003 7:26PM; Updated: Friday November 14, 2003 7:52PM
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Toyota officially became part of NASCAR's Craftsman Truck series on Friday, announcing agreements with four teams for the 2004 season.
Bill Davis Racing, Innovative Motorsports Inc., Waltrip Racing Inc. and Bang Racing, all new to the series, will field Toyota Tundra trucks in the season-opening event Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway.
Davis will bring 18-year-old Shelby Howard to the truck series, while Robert Huffman and Hank Parker Jr. will drive for George deBidart's Innovative Motorsports.
Darrell Waltrip, a three-time Winston Cup champion who is now a TV analyst, has hired David Reutimann as his driver and will get behind the wheel of a second entry for two or three events in 2004.
The new Bang Racing team, co-owned by Larry McReynolds, former Cup crew chief and now also a TV analyst, and Alex Meshkin, has hired 1995 truck series champion Mike Skinner and is expected to run a second entry for new series champion Travis Kvapil.
Davis also will work with Toyota Racing Development in building the race trucks and V8 engines for all four teams.
"What I've seen Toyota accomplish in such a short time in the IRL series, and the support they have given those teams ... there's no question that their intentions and goals are the same as they head toward the truck series in 2004," said McReynolds.
Toyota engines competed in the IRL series for the first time in 2003, and Scott Dixon won the series championship in a Toyota-powered car.
In another truck announcement Friday, General Motors will add to its role in the Craftsman series with sponsorship of three teams.
A Chevrolet Silverado driven by Dennis Setzer for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports will carry the Silverado sponsorship, while Jack Sprague will drive a vehicle sponsored by Chevy Trucks for Xpress Motorsports.
Kevin Harvick Inc., will field a Silverado driven by Matt Crafton and sponsored by GM Goodwrench.
The Gillette Co., flush with marketing dollars and hoping to tap into 75 million stock car racing fans, announced a $20 million sponsorship deal Friday with NASCAR and six of its top young drivers.
The deal calls for Gillette to be a secondary sponsor to newly crowned Winston Cup champion Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman. The six drivers will be called the "Gillette Young Guns" in print and TV ads for products including razors, Duracell batteries and Oral-B toothbrushes.
Gillette's sports sponsorship roots date to 1910, when the company hired baseball star Honus Wagner to hawk razor blades, and has been involved with baseball, football, boxing and World Cup soccer. In the 1990s, it did some marketing with NASCAR drivers but on a smaller scale.
Robby Gordon will be a lot busier next season, adding a 24-race Busch series schedule to his full-time Winston Cup ride with Richard Childress Racing.
Team Gordon will field Chevrolets with Childress engines and sponsorship from apparel maker Fruit of the Loom.
The Busch schedule includes only races that are support events for Cup races.
"Most of the time, I'm wandering around on Saturdays lost, with nothing to do," Gordon said. "My main focus is racing and this will give me a chance to get out and race more.
"This is only going to help our Winston Cup program like it helps Kevin Harvick's program."
Pontiacs, which will race in their final Cup event Sunday, have won two of the four races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. ... Tony Stewart won the first two Cup races here. ... Twenty-two drivers have raced in all four Cup races at the Homestead track.