Toyota complete first public test

Toyota made their first public participation as a NASCAR manufacturer at the official Car of Tomorrow test at Michigan Speedway

Toyota complete first public test

Although tests on a 'fourth' Car of Tomorrow model have been carried previously in the development of the new NASCAR chassis, the test marked the first official time Toyota and their respective teams publicly participated in a session.

The Car of Tomorrow design is the result of a five-year design programme by NASCAR's Research and Development Centre aiming at designing a new car which is safer, better to race and more cost efficient for teams.

The car will be used at 16 different events next season, increasing to 26 events in 2008 before NASCAR uses the design full-time for the entire 2009 schedule.

The Michigan test represented the final time manufacturers will have the chance to group test their cars before the submission of their final nose designs to NASCAR.

Fourteen drivers participated in the test, representing all four manufacturers, which involved single car runs followed by group running sessions.

Toyota were represented by Michael Waltrip (Michael Waltrip Racing), Bill Eliott (Team Red Bull) and Dave Blaney (Bill Davis Racing).

"To be a part of the process of helping develop this car and contribute to the future of NASCAR is pretty exciting to me personally," said Lee White, senior vice president and general manager of Toyota Racing Development.

"And I think very exciting for our company and the teams that are here and the drivers. I think everybody is really enjoying it."

It was also the first time that Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, two former champions and two of the sport's biggest stars, got to sample the car.

"It doesn't drive bad," Gordon said. "This is my first time with the car and I think this is the first time it's been on a track this big, as far as an unrestricted track. By itself, the car drives pretty good.

"In traffic, you're going to get in behind another car and you're going to push, and it's going to draft good. The thing should suck up really good down the straightaways, but we'll see.

"My car is a little bit too tight right now because it's the first time for us. We're being a little bit conservative and creeping up a little bit, but we probably need a little more time. We're going to make some adjustments and hopefully, we got it where it needs to be."

Busch said that there wasn't a world of difference between the current design and the Car of Tomorrow, despite additions such as a rear wing rather than a spoiler, and a front air splitter.

"It's fairly comparable to what we have now," Busch said. "It's not anything like a night-and-day difference. It's real close. It's just a matter, again, of working with the front end to try to get that splitter real close to the ground.

"The more we run the car, the more we know, and that's exactly why NASCAR has us here."

The next Car of Tomorrow test is tentatively scheduled for after this Autumn's race at Talladega.

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