NASCAR: Toyota reveals new 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup (PHOTOS)

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Toyota officials are hopeful that the manufacturer’s overall performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will improve thanks to its new 2015 Camry, which was unveiled today at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The ’15 Camry certainly appears more aggressively styled than this year’s version, but time will tell if the car can help Toyota catch up to rivals Chevrolet and Ford.

The manufacturer has only been to Victory Lane twice this season with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Busch at Fontana, Hamlin at Talladega).

During the press conference, Andy Graves, vice president of chassis development for TRD (Toyota Racing Development), said the biggest challenge of creating the new machine was taking into account feedback from the Toyota driver stable.

“That’s the way the car handles in traffic, the transient conditions, the transient aspects of the vehicle on the track – and [then] try to understand how to measure and do a better job of refining that,” said Graves.

Graves also maintained that the wind tunnel numbers for the 2015 Camry remain the same.

“It’s the things that can’t be measured in the wind tunnel – that’s where we worked,” he added. “We’ve had a rough year in 2014, and we feel like this car is gonna put us back on track in 2015.”

Per Graves, design for the 2015 Camry first started in April of 2013 and the car’s first wind tunnel test took place in January of this year. He also confirmed that the car will receive a proper track test before the start of Daytona Speedweeks next February.

Here’s a few more pictures of the 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup, as well as a look at the 2015 Camry for the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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