The new Toyota Supra will go racing … but not where anyone expected

The revived Toyota Supra is one of the most hyped car launches of the decade, but no one could have predicted this. The new Supra will race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series beginning with the season-opening race in Daytona, Florida, on February 16, 2019.

The Toyota Supra has quite a racing pedigree, but this icon of Japanese performance has always been more Fast and the Furious than Ricky Bobby. It has never had any previous association with NASCAR; Toyota has only been racing since 2007, long after the Supra went out of production. Co-developed with BMW, the new Supra is expected to be a sports car more suited to road courses than NASCAR ovals.

At the same time, the Supra has more performance credibility than the Camry it will replace in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, where Ford and Chevrolet field NASCAR versions of the Mustang and Camaro, respectively. NASCAR racers are also purpose built, with only badging and a thin veneer of exterior styling to tie them to the production models they’re supposed to represent. It doesn’t matter what badge is on the car, really.

Toyota didn’t relate any technical details, but racing rules mean the Supra will feature a NASCAR-specific V8 engine and chassis design. A press release said Toyota Racing Development and the automaker’s U.S. Calty design studio “scaled the Supra to fit within NASCAR’s specifications for race vehicle entries” in the Xfinity Series. Thanks to the NASCAR racer and the recent GR Supra concept car, we have a decent idea of what the new Supra will look like, but other details are scarce.

The Xfinity Series is NASCAR’s second-tier series, sitting below the Monster Energy Cup Series in prestige. Toyota will continue running the Camry in the Cup Series. Since Cup Series cars are generally a bit faster than their Xfinity Series counterparts, the Camry might actually outperform the Supra — likely the only time that will ever be the case. Toyota will also keep running the Tundra pickup truck in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series. Yup, NASCAR has a race series for pickup trucks.

Meanwhile, Toyota announced via Twitter that the road-going version of the new Supra will appear at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. The festival runs July 12-15, but Toyota hasn’t specified a date for the appearance. It’s also unclear whether the car will be fully revealed, or whether Toyota will bring a camouflaged prototype.

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