Toyota Racing – Weekly Preview – 10.04.23

NASCAR heads to its final road course of the season at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, marking the next Playoff cutoff race for both the Cup Series and Xfinity series. After this weekend, the Round of 8 will be set for both series. The ARCA Menards Series also closes its season with Toyota’s Jesse Love as the champion.

NASCAR National Series – NCS | NXS

Three of five Toyota drivers above the cutline … Going into this weekend’s cutoff race, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell currently sit above the elimination line. Hamlin should clinch his spot in the Round of 8 early on as he is 50 points above the cutoff, with Bell 22 points to the good and Truex 17 points up. Their Team Toyota comrades and 23XI Racing drivers, Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace, are two and nine points, respectively under the cutline going into the ROVAL.

Bell aims for ROVAL repeat … Bell was the lone Toyota driver in last year’s Championship 4, which was sparked by his win at the Charlotte ROVAL last fall. A repeat win for the Oklahoma native would provide a similar boost of momentum, as well as lock himself into the Round of 8. Bell has had a strong season on road courses, finishing in the top-10 in three of the five races (Sonoma, Indianapolis and Watkins Glen).

Hamlin’s road course qualifying magic … No one has been better in 2023 during road course qualifying than Hamlin. The 19-year Cup Series veteran has qualified on pole in three of the last four road courses (Sonoma, Chicago and Watkins Glen). A pole at the ROVAL would put Hamlin in prime position to lock himself into the Round of 8 and give Toyota their 498th pole in NASCAR competition as they close in on a milestone 500.

Toyota Xfinity playoff drivers solidly above the cutline … Heading into their cutoff race, Toyota’s John Hunter Nemechek and Sammy Smith both sit above the Xfinity Series points cutline with some room to spare. Nemechek’s win at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago locked him into the Round of 8, while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Smith, is 18 points in the clear.

Nemechek’s hot streak … There may be no one driving as well in the Xfinity Series currently than Nemechek. The 26-year-old comes into the weekend with two wins in the last three races, along with four top-fives in a row. A win this weekend would be Nemechek’s first on a road course in the Xfinity Series. 

A special tribute to Sherry Pollex … In this weekend’s Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte ROVAL, Sam Hunt Racing (SHR) and Connor Mosack will be running a special paint scheme in honor of the late Sherry Pollex. The No. 24 SHR GR Supra will be highlighting the Sherry Strong Foundation, which in conjunction with the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, aims to raise awareness around and boost advocacy for ovarian cancer and childhood cancers, along with generating financial support for those battling the disease. Pollex’s brother-in-law Richmond Burgdoff, well-known as “Fuz”, will act as Car Chief of the No. 24 Sherry Strong GR Supra.

NASCAR Regional Series – ARCA

Love wraps up dominant championship season … After this weekend’s ARCA Menards Series race at Toledo Speedway, Jesse Love’s 2023 championship campaign will be complete. The 18-year-old Californian has won 10 of his 19 starts this season, along with 16 top-fives and 17 top-10s, allowing him to clinch the title last week at Salem. Love’s championship is the eighth by a Toyota driver in the ARCA Menards Series, with the most recent title coming from Ty Gibbs in 2021