Toyota teams want to assist Japan

Updated: March 17, 2011, 4:06 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan will not have an immediate effect on Toyota's business with NASCAR, officials from the Japan-based company said on Thursday.

Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development USA, said fewer than 10 percent of the parts used by Toyota in NASCAR comes from Japan and that there is an adequate safety stock to make it through most, if not all, of the season.

The facility that produces those parts, specifically cylinder and manifold castings, are on the opposite side of the island from where most of the destruction occurred, White added. No significant damage has been reported.

"We're not in a panic mode for those particular parts, although they are critical parts," White said. "We do have alternative vendors in the United States and western hemisphere."

White said his main concern is for the welfare of the people in Japan as well as those in the United States impacted by the earthquake. He said every Toyota team in NASCAR has called asking what it can do to help and that every Toyota in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series will carry an American Red Cross emblem this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing has been working specifically with the Red Cross to help with relief efforts as it did concerning Haiti last year. Not currently a part of that plan is to utilize company planes because they are not built for long-distance flights.

White noted Toyota had company-wide shutdowns in Japan that went through Wednesday to assess any possible damage and allow families to regroup.

"Our No. 1 primary concern is the humanity aspect of it," White said. "We have friends there. We have associates there. My daughter-in-law's family lives southwest of Tokyo. A lot of us have personal interest in what is going on there beyond racing.

"It is tragic, unbelievable."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter