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Toyota in talks with two potential new NASCAR team owners

Sports

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Cup Series-opening Daytona 500, Wilson said the potential new team owners “come from the business world” and that they are both “well-funded” and “credible”.

He said that they’ve been attracted by NASCAR’s Next Gen car, which is scheduled to roll out in 2022, that offers substantial savings for owners by being based on common components built by base of single suppliers rather than being manufactured by the teams themselves.

Any new team entering NASCAR’s Cup Series would have to purchase or lease a charter to guarantee a starting spot in all of the races. Existing teams are free to sell their charters, or lease them for one year. Toyota recently added the 23XI team of Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan for this year – which purchased a charter.

“I’ll say candidly that we’re talking to two potential owners that are not in racing today, that are outside the sport entirely, and because of Next Gen, because of circumstance and the relationships that we’ve been building they’re interested at taking a shot – potentially,” said Wilson. “That’s exciting, when you get new ownership that comes from the business world, that’s well-funded and it’s credible, I think the sport’s going to be rocked. Stay tuned!”

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Wilson also mentioned that he continues to have an on-going dialogue with current teams inside NASCAR’s ranks. Toyota is the least-represented manufacturer in the Cup Series, with its four-car powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing squad only supplemented by single-car entries from the new 23XI team and the small Gaunt Bros Racing outfit – with the latter failing to qualify for the 500 for the second year running.

The lack of Toyotas becomes a problem on superspeedways, when drivers are encouraged to only draft with those from a fellow manufacturer – and can cause issues around pitstops, when its cars need to pit together to get back up to speed as quickly as possible.

Wilson said of adding extra teams: “The stock answer is I like to think that I have good relations with every team out there, and I’ve been flattered quite honestly by the number of approaches that have been made – y’know just casual ones. We have a couple of on-going conversations.”

On the subject of the Next Gen car, Wilson gave an update of progress so far: “It’s been very process-driven by NASCAR. The bodies we submitted for our Camrys have received approval, as have Ford and Chevrolet with their respective cars. The cars that have been testing are mules, effectively, with a neutral, agnostic body strapped on to it.

“One of the next steps is for us each to run our bodies and our engines. We have not put a Toyota engine in a Next Gen car to test yet. So that’s all going to happen pretty quickly this Spring.”