By far, Toyota is the least popular car in the NASCAR field; JGR talks the importance of the LFR alliance
In 2017, Furniture Row Racing took the NASCAR title. In 2018, the defending NASCAR champions announced they would be closing shop for 2019.
That’s one less Toyota in the field, they were now down to just 5. They’re severely outnumbered. That’s a huge problem at tracks like Daytona and Talladega but it’s a year-round problem as well.
TRD went on a search for a new team. Leavine Family Racing raised both hands. They converted their Chevy race cars to Toyota cars over the winter and also formed a new alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kasey Kahne stepped out of the seat in 2018 as he chased medical issues. At the same time, Matt DiBenedetto departed from his team with the hopes of finding a better ride.
The stars aligned and DiBenedetto has been placed in the Leavine Family Racing #95. The team unloaded at Daytona International Speedway for the first race of the season and went right to the front.
48 laps were led by Matt DiBenedetto in the 2019 Daytona 500. He more than doubled his career total to that point from the previous 140 races.
Denny Hamlin on Matt DiBenedetto
“He really ran well and did a great job in the draft,” Denny Hamlin said after the Daytona 500.
“We were always one row ahead of the mayhem. I saw he was right behind me. I actually moved up to block him. The next thing you know, he gets wrecked.”
“Circumstances. Joe’s got a better understand of why he thinks all that stuff happened today. We were very fortunate.”
“Obviously, Wheels has a lot of notes from when we were successful here. That car was super strong.”
“It will be very important for us to have that car running strong and to gather more information. As an organization, we don’t want to lose a car.”
“Losing Furniture Row, hopefully that #95 team can pick up where they left off.”
Joe Gibbs on Leavine Family Racing
“We really kind of hit it off with Bob Leavine and their group,” Joe Gibbs said of the team.
“I appreciate Toyota and all they’ve done over there. I really think we have a great chance to take that team and continue to work with them. It’s going to take off.”
“I was thrilled for the whole weekend. I kidded Bob, I said, ‘That very first race in that 125 and you kick our rear? You’re not suppose to do that. Ok? Back off.’ “
“Really, that is a very important partner for us. We are the small number, the Toyota cars. We need that car to step up.”
NASCAR race cars in the Daytona 500 by manufacture: Chevrolet Camaro (19) Ford Mustang (15), Toyota Camry (6).
“I was thrilled that they ran the way they did,” Joe Gibbs concluded.