Michael L. Levitt

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 70: The 2018 Camry

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It’s a common practice for automakers to make next year’s model available in showrooms with a few months remaining in the previous year.

But racing next year’s model a year ahead of time?

That’s why it’s notable that the debut of the 2018 Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series occurred roughly seven months before the production version is on sale to the public.

“What’s unique is we made the decision early on to bring this to the track before the cars are being sold in the showrooms,” Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said on the latest edition of the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “That’s very aggressive. Normally, the cadence is to wait until Daytona 2018. The reason was we were so enamored with the new car. The styling was so spectacular.

“We decided to take this on, and it’s a tremendous burden on ourselves and the team partners because we were developing this car, running this in the wind tunnel, months before the public would see anything.”

The development of the 2018 Camry, which was kept under heavy wraps for months leading up to its 2017 Daytona 500 debut, was the subject of the latest NASCAR on NBC podcast.

Wilson explained the competition side of fine-tuning the car in the first half of the podcast, while Calty Design Research’s Kevin Hunter and Ian Cartabiano explained how the car was developed in the studio.

Hunter and Cartabiano both worked on the Camry street car before moving to the racing version.

“The TRD guys allow us to throw out the first ball,” Hunter said. “We give them what we think it should look like, a good rendition based on the parameters. They absorb and decide what’s good and what’s bad.

“There was a real strong ambition to make this car really cool and keep the production car identity. It’s the most sculptural race car to date.”

Cartabiano, who grew up a Bill Elliott and Davey Allison fan, working on a stock car was a dream come true.

“This was the job I always wanted,” said Cartabiano, who has worked on seven production vehicles for Toyota. “Having the opportunity to design a new Camry and coming back to the home studio and make a new NASCAR version. To design and draw and make a race car that’s not just a sketch but really well thought out, that’s a really cool challenge, which makes it fun.”

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.


NASCAR community pays tribute to World of Outlaws driver killed in crash

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The NASCAR community paid tribute to World of Outlaws driver Jason Johnson, who died after a sprint car crash Saturday night at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway.

Johnson crashed after a restart racing for the lead. Witnesses said that Johnson’s car flipped and went through billboards outside Turn 3, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Johnson won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals. He finished sixth in the points last year in the World of Outlaws.


Today’s Cup race at Sonoma: Start time, lineup and more

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There has been a different winner in each of the last nine Cup races at Sonoma Raceway, site of today’s Cup race. Those nine winners have been Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.

Will there be a 10th different winner at the road course?

Here is all the information for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley will give the command to start engines at 3:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:13 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 110 laps (218.9 miles) around the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 10:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEMBroadway Under The Stars in Sonoma Valley, Transcendence’s Meggie Cansler will perform the anthem at 2:55 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 80 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kevin Harvick led the final 22 laps to win last year’s race. Clint Bowyer placed second. Brad Keselowski finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for full qualification results.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Sonoma

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

Nate Ryan

Martin Truex Jr. He probably had the best car at Sonoma last year; his team closes the deal this season.

Dustin Long

Kevin Harvick. No one can stop him on an oval or a road course.

Daniel McFadin

William Byron pulls off a shocking win in his first Cup race at Sonoma.

Dan Beaver

Jamie McMurray seesaws through the field, but gets track position in the closing laps.

Race results, Truck Series point standings after Gateway

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Justin Haley survived two late-race restarts to win his first career Camping World Truck Series race in the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

His victory was aided by a push into turn one by rookie Todd Gilliland, who finished second.

Johnny Sauter finished third to score his 10th top-five finish in 10 races.

Myatt Snider and Zane Smith rounded out the top five. Smith was making his first career Truck start.

Click here for complete results.

Johnny Sauter maintained his points lead with a third-place finish, extending the advantage to 73 points over Noah Gragson, who finished 10th.

Brett Moffitt is third in the standings and has two wins to his credit.

Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen round out the top five

Hayley climbed from eighth to sixth in the standings with his win, but more importantly that victory gets him a berth into the playoffs.

Click here for the complete points standings.