Nifty Fifty: Toyota hits Sprint Cup milestone

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After two weeks of being in the headlines for engine reliability issues, the folks at Toyota are celebrating after Matt Kenseth brought them their 50th victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

David Wilson, senior vice president for Toyota Racing Development, hailed his TRD compatriots Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing on Twitter after the checkered flag: “So proud of our @toyotaracing TRD team. We have the best people in the world. Thank you @JoeGibbsRacing and @mattkenseth for believing.”

Kenseth and JGR teammate Kyle Busch saw their TRD motors let go while fighting within the lead pack at the Daytona 500, and one week ago at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch and another JGR pilot, Denny Hamlin, had to start from the rear of the field after valve spring problems forced their teams to swap engines.

But today in Vegas, there were no problems for the TRD camp. In addition to Kenseth’s victory, Busch (fourth) and Michael Waltrip Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also posted strong results.

For his part, Kenseth said he wasn’t concerned about reliability problems emerging in today’s 400-miler.

“The stuff runs really, really good, and I knew, obviously, they knew there was a problem there and they were going to work on it and fix it,” he said.

When you think about it, it’s only fitting that Kenseth and JGR has delivered Toyota its milestone 50th victory in NASCAR’s top series. The team, with Busch at the wheel, also gave the manufacturer its inaugural Cup win on March 9, 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Newgarden fastest as Castroneves returns in weather-shortened Barber test

Photo: IndyCar
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The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for an open test, with 24 entries tackling the 2.38-mile road course.

Weather intervened in the afternoon, preventing nearly the entire field from going out, but the weather held off during the morning enough for one session to be run in its entirety.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the way, with a quick lap of 1:07.979, ahead of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. For Castroneves, this marked his first IndyCar outing of 2018.

Helio Castroneves was back in an IndyCar on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: IndyCar

Sporting the Pennzoil “yellow submarine” paint scheme, Castroneves turned 41 laps around Barber in the morning session, with a quick lap of 1:08.315. He was also the only driver to venture out on track in the afternoon, completing eight laps.

The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five.

Results are below.