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Dodge unhappy with Davis' affiliation with Toyota

By By Amanda Vincent/NASCAR Columnist
June 14, 2003
Toyota Motor Company, which is preparing for its 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut, may not have raced in a NASCAR national touring series event yet, but the manufacturer is already making waves in the Winston Cup Series.
Before even taking to the track in official competition, Toyota has seemed to create friction between Daimler/Chrysler and Bill Davis Racing.
Daimler/Chrysler, through its Dodge brand, has pulled all of its support from Bill Davis Racing and is suing Davis' organization, one of the original teams that began fielding Dodges when the manufacturer returned to the Winston Cup Series in 2001.
Dodge claims that Bill Davis Racing violated the terms of their contract by building a Toyota race truck at its race shop, putting a Dodge engine in it and taking it to a wind tunnel for testing with BDR decals on it. According to a statement released by Dodge, that violated the clause in its contract with Davis stating that the team shall in no way promote a competitor of Dodge.
Toyota plans to develop its own engine but hasn't completed it yet.
According to Dominicis, Toyota was under the assumption that Davis had clearance from Dodge to help with the development of the Toyota Tundra that will compete in the Truck Series.
Dodge is concerned that through Davis, Toyota may learn trade secrets that could either translate to the Craftsman Truck Series, in which Dodge also competes, or be used if Toyota enters Winston Cup competition in the future.
Officials at Toyota claim that they have no plans to field race cars in the Winston Cup Series.
Ray Evernham, who was the leader in the movement to return Dodge to Winston Cup racing, says that he believes Toyota will attempt to "cherry pick" some of NASCAR's best teams.
Everyone affiliated with Bill Davis Racing are keeping tight-lipped about the matter, with the organization only releasing a short statement containing a team response on Dodge's lawsuit and withdrawal of support.
Despite no longer receiving assistance from Dodge, Davis will continue to field Dodges for his No. 22 team with driver Ward Burton and No. 23 team with driver Kenny Wallace for the remainder of 2003.
Meanwhile, the Bill Davis Racing organization is optimistic that Dodge's claims will be proven false.