By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Moving into unison with the other two manufacturers, Toyota announced on Thursday evening that they will be running a sportier looking car in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019 as the swap over from their current Camry model to the Supra.
Toyota has fielded the Camry since joining NASCAR in 2007, earning four manufacturer championships, two driver championships, and 143 wins, but with a production model of the Supra getting released next year, the manufacturer thought the timing was right to bring it into NASCAR.
“When you talk Toyota and cool cars, Supra is the first thing that comes to mind for many auto enthusiasts,” said Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing. “Supra’s return in production form is huge news, but now we’re also going to see this iconic sports car return to American motorsport. From a marketing perspective, it’s important to have a race car that evokes the dynamism and character of its showroom counterpart. We’re confident we’ve accomplished that with Supra, and we hope racing fans the world over will proudly cheer its success on track.”
Not only were the manufacturer reps in attendance for the announcement excited about the car’s return, some of the Toyota drivers including Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell expressed their thoughts about getting to drive the car next season.
“I think being able to introduce a new vehicle into NASCAR competition, a new nameplate, is certainly exciting for all of us,” said Busch. “Hopefully exciting for the fans, the Toyota fans, and all of the Toyota driver fans, as well, too, and being able to be the guys that drive this car in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. I’m looking forward to it. It’s certainly a better or different, unique opportunity for us to be able to go out there and get a win other than a Camry and keep trying to keep Toyota strong on the racetrack.”
Bell does have a leg up on his Toyota counterparts as he was the first to get to drive the new car when they began to make promotional material about the new car and hopes to be the first to win with a Supra nameplate in NASCAR.
“It’s just really cool,” Bell said. “You don’t have an opportunity to become a first time winner very often, and I remember when Jason Leffler won the first race, I think it was at IRP, for the Camry, and then obviously Kyle won the first Cup race at Atlanta, so it would be pretty, pretty special if I could be the first driver to win in a Supra.”
With the Supra moving into the Xfinity Series, Toyota will have three different car models across the three national series, joining the Camry in the Cup Series and the Tundra in the Truck Series, but there is no rush by the manufacturer to move Supra past the Xfinity Series at this point in time.
“The Camry has been with us since 2007 since we entered in Cup, and we believe the Camry is the best-selling car in America for the last 16 years, and as I said earlier, we still believe in cars,” Laukes added about the Camry staying in the Cup Series for the time being.
“We believe in the sedan business, and we also believe the exposure that the Camry gets as a nameplate has served us very well, and we’ll continue with it in Cup Series for the very near future. Similar to, I believe, Camaro and Mustang both started in Xfinity Series, this will start in Xfinity Series, and you never know long term, but right now our current plans are to stay with Camry.”