The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra race truck, which will make its racing debut in February 2004 at Daytona, ran its initial test earlier this week at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, North Carolina.

The historic session was the first for the manufacturer since it officially submitted the truck to NASCAR in July. Veteran racer Joe Ruttman handled the driving duties at the 0.455-mile oval.

"It was another significant step in the truck program's progression," said Jim Aust, vice president of Motorsports at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and president and CEO of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) U.S.A.

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"For Toyota, it is a special day as we prepare for the Tundra's debut at Daytona next February. It is a rewarding moment for those who have worked on the truck program over the last year."

The test was conducted to learn the Tundra race truck's basic characteristics, evaluate systems, and gain first impressions on down force and balance.

"It's really an honor to be first to climb behind the wheel of the Tundra," said Ruttman, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck veteran since the series' inception in 1995. "For being its first time on the track, I was really impressed with the truck's performance. It hit as close to the mark as any new race vehicle could hope to achieve for a first test. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the truck's learning curve and contributing to its progression."

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra will continue testing throughout the fall in preparation for the 2004 season.

No teams have yet been confirmed to run the Tundra in 2004 although Toyota are expected to approach many of the most experienced NCTS teams and those teams with former connections to the firm in CART.