Feb. 15, 2014
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Time flies when you’re winning races.
A decade has passed since Toyota made its first foray into one of NASCAR’s top three national series. The automaker entered NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition in 2004 and began its participation in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2007.
To say the least, Toyota has enjoyed a successful first decade. Toyota drivers have won 263 races in that span — 63 in NASCAR Sprint Cup, 88 in NASCAR Nationwide and 112 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The first 10 years have produced nine manufacturers’ championships, six in trucks and three in NASCAR Nationwide. About the only significant items missing from the Toyota resume are a manufacturers’ title and a champion driver and owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Matt Kenseth came close last year, winning a series-best seven races before finishing second to six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the final standings.
10 YEARS? REALLY?
In the same year Toyota was making its debut in the truck series, Kyle Busch ran his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Since then, Busch has completed nine full seasons at NASCAR’s highest level.
“It doesn’t feel like 10 years at all, but yet when you look back at life outside of racing you think, ‘Okay, I was 18 when I came in here — holy crap a lot of things have gone on and changed over 10 years.'” Busch said. “It certainly seems like a whole different world, not only me in it, but just a whole different world in general.”
As Busch sees it, one of the biggest changes is the overwhelming, and sometimes intrusive presence of social media.
“I don’t think we had Facebook or Twitter back 10 years ago,” he said. “You could actually go to a bar and not have somebody tweet about it.”
Busch also noted that, after nine seasons, there are plenty of items left on his bucket list.
“There’s certainly a lot of things that I have yet to accomplish that I’m disappointed that I have not accomplished yet — some big wins of the marquis events as well as being able to become a Sprint Cup Series champion,” Busch said.
“The Nationwide Series championship is great, but ultimately what all of us drivers look towards is a Sprint Cup championship. Been an interesting nine years, but we’ll see what happens in the 10th.”