Toyota Racing – Weekly Preview – 08.31.22

It’s Playoff time for the NASCAR Cup Series as they take on the Labor Day Classic at Darlington Raceway along with the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The ARCA Menards Series has its last race of the season on dirt, while the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series runs its biggest event of the season – the U.S. Nationals – in Indianapolis

NASCAR National Series – NCS | NXS

Toyota Playoff drivers… Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch have qualified for the Cup Series Playoffs as they look to extend Toyota’s record as the only OEM to have earned at least one spot in the Championship 4 since this points format begin in 2014. Hamlin has earned a Championship 4 berth each of the last three seasons, while Busch was Toyota’s last NCS champion in 2019. Bell is looking for his first Championship 4 berth in just his third full-time season in the Cup Series.

Hamlin lone double… Hamlin will compete in his only NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series weekend at Darlington, at what has become an annual affair for the Virginia-native. Hamlin has earned five of his 17 Xfinity Series victories at the track ‘Too Tough to Tame.’ He also has four Cup Series victories at the track, with two in the last two seasons (May 2020, September 2021)

Bell closing in on 100… Bell is closing on his 100th career start as the Oklahoma-native will run his 99th Cup Series event this weekend. The second-time Playoff driver earned his best Darlington finish in the spring race as he led Toyota with a sixth-place finish.

Gibbs running two… Ty Gibbs will continue to substitute for Kurt Busch in the NASCAR Cup Series as the 19-year-old will run his seventh Cup Series event. Gibbs is running his third NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway on Saturday after starting first and leading 18 laps there in the spring.

Nemechek returns… Before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns at Kansas, John Hunter Nemechek will return to the No. 26 Toyota GR Supra for Sam Hunt Racing. Nemechek had the team’s best result of the season in the spring race as he was running second in the closing laps before a late-race caution resulted in a fourth-place finish. Nemechek has Xfinity Series starts scheduled for both Toyota organizations still this season. He will be back to defend his win at Texas Motor Speedway with Joe Gibbs Racing in September, before returning to Sam Hunt Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October.

NASCAR Regional Series – ARCA

Love wants the dirt bonus… Jesse Love earned his first win of the season on the Springfield dirt two weeks ago and is now looking for a big money pay out. If he can sweep the dirt events in ARCA competition this season, Love and his team will earn a $50,000 bonus.

Smith closes in on two titles… After another victory in Milwaukee on Sunday, Sammy Smith is closing in on two ARCA titles. With one race remaining on the ARCA East schedule, Smith holds a 33-point advantage over second, while on the Sioux Chief Showdown championship battle, the 18-year-old is 23 points up with two races to go. Both championships will be decided at Bristol Motor Speedway in September.

NHRA – Top Fuel | Funny Car

Countdown Fields set… The NHRA will set their Countdown playoff fields this weekend, and all of Toyota’s full-time drivers are currently set to earn automatic berths by being in the top-10 in points. In Funny Car, all three – Ron Capps, Alexis DeJoria and J.R. Todd – have already clinched their spots, with Justin Ashley and Steve Torrence locked in the Top Fuel field. Shawn Langdon, sixth in points, should clinch by qualifying for the U.S. Nationals, while eighth-place Doug Kalitta and ninth-place Antron Brown are looking to solidify their spots in the field by going rounds on Monday.

Callout returns… The U.S. Nationals will also feature the all-star Pep Boys Callout. In Top Fuel, Ashley and Torrence are part of the final four, while Capps and DeJoria are in the final eight. The Top Fuel Callout is part of Saturday’s on-track action, while the Funny Car portion will run on Sunday.