Toyota drivers are the ones to beat in this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Tell me where you’ve heard that before. Oh wait, I think we write about that every week. Well, this weekend is the same.
In Friday’s lone Cup practice session of the day, Toyota drivers took the top four spots on the speed chart. Kyle Busch topped the speed charts with a speed of 184.143 mph in his No. 18 Toyota. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Daniel Suarez was second quick with a lap around the 1.5-mile track at 183.418 mph in his No. 19 Toyota. In fact, it was an all JGR 1-2-3 in the initial session, as Denny Hamlin was third fastest in his No. 11 Toyota with a speed of 182.921 mph.
Martin Truex Jr. gave Toyota a 1-2-3-4 as he was fourth quick in his No. 78 Toyota with a speed of 182.859 mph.
In qualifying, it was more of the same with Toyota’s being 1-2-3.
With that being said, why would Toyota’s not be the favorite for Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN)?
Over the last three races, Toyota drivers have led 75-percent of the overall laps (955 out of 1,271). In fact, over the last nine races in general, Toyota drivers have led 77-percent of the laps (1,928 out of 2,505). So, why would that stat change this weekend on a 1.5-mile track?
Last Saturday night at Richmond, Toyota drivers combined to lead 325 of the 404 laps. The week prior at Darlington, they led 206 of the 367 laps. Three weeks ago at Bristol, Toyota drivers led 427 of the 500 laps. The week prior to that in Michigan, they led 95 of the 202 laps. Then, at Watkins Glen, they tallied 59 laps led in 90 laps completed on the New York road course. Before that at Pocono as well as Indy, they combined to lead 262 out of the 367 laps possible. Even before that, they led 290 of the 301 laps at New Hampshire and 264 of the 274 laps at Kentucky.
So, they are clearly the class of the field.