Muscling in on Detroit or just reflecting changing times? Consider this: Michael Waltrip, Best Western's NASCAR poster boy, will drive a heavily modified Toyota Camry in the February 2007 NEXTEL Cup race. It will mark Toyota's entry into a field dominated by Detroit's rapidly shrinking Big Three.
The Dodge Charger Waltrip is driving for Best Western and a host of other sponsors is only for this year. Waltrip and his team are already working on a modified Camry. How it will compete in a field so far limited to Midwest iron remains to be seen. But based on Toyota's growing prominence on the global automotive front, it should do just fine.
"I'm running my team," Waltrip told ESPN News. "Now, when we make a decision, obviously, we call our partners. But we are not receiving any direction from Toyota. They want to sell more cars. They want to sell more trucks. Toyota wants to come into the sport and blend into the landscape."