Fresh off a win by driver Kyle Busch in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series last weekend, Toyota Racing just made an even bigger splash by announcing that the Toyota Supra is back at the track.
Starting next season, the Supra will battle for a championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
For Toyota Racing Development, it’s fitting that the announcement about the Supra — a sportier vehicle than the currently used Camry — came at Daytona. Next year, the Supra will debut in the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ (NXS) season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 16, 2019.
By bringing the iconic sports car back, Toyota now has a model to rival Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro.
“When you talk Toyota and cool cars, the Supra is the first thing that comes to mind for many auto enthusiasts,” said Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing. “Supra’s return in production form is huge news, but now we’re also going to see this iconic sports car return to American motorsport.”
To prepare the Supra for NASCAR racing, Toyota worked alongside Calty Design Research, Inc., based in Newport Beach, Calif. Calty was established in October 1973 and made Toyota the first major car manufacturer to set up design operations in Southern California.
When preparing the Supra, the groups applied knowledge learned from other collaborations, including the sixth and eighth generations of the Toyota Camry for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS).
Last season, Toyota earned its second driver’s championship in the MENCS, when Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Camry, hoisted the trophy at season’s end.
“We’ve had tremendous success working with Calty to develop race cars that match the look, feel and excitement of their showroom counterparts,” said David Wilson, president of TRD. “We’re confident Calty and TRD have developed another race car, the Supra, that is capable of winning races and championships. For the Supra to be racing in NASCAR just speaks to how important this vehicle is to us, and that we believe the Supra can be a bona fide championship winner.”
2019 will mark new beginnings for Toyota on the NASCAR Xfinity Series circuit as the Supra replaces the well-known Camry, which had a numerous successes on the track from 2007 through present day.
Kyle Busch (2009) and Daniel Suarez (2016) both won championships driving the Toyota Camry in the NXS, and the model has earned an impressive 143 victories. Now, Toyota Racing, along with its stable of drivers, hopes to continue its successes with the Supra.
“When Ed (Laukes) told me they were bringing Supra back, I almost didn’t believe him. I figured he was messing with me, but Toyota did it and this is a big deal for the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” said Busch, who also won the 2015 MENCS championship in a Camry. “The Supra is an iconic cool car, and to have it racing in NASCAR to highlight the Supra’s return speaks to how important this is. I’m hoping to be the first guy to get the Supra to victory lane, but I’m sure there are a few other Toyota drivers thinking the same thing.”
For Toyota, the 2019 season will mark the first time that the manufacturer will field a different model across all of NASCAR’s top-three national series. The eighth generation Camry will compete in the MENCS, while the Supra will contend for a championship in the NXS and the Tundra will roar to the front in the NACAR Camping World Truck Series. With the addition of the Supra, Toyota now showcases six models in eight different motorsports series in America.
But, the burning question remains, who will be the first driver to take Supra to victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next season? Will it be Busch or another of the talented Toyota drivers? Time will tell.