Horsepower hasn’t been the problem for Toyota’s engines this season in the Sprint Cup series. Neither is a lack of wins – Toyota Racing Development motors have earned five of them this season, all coming from the Joe Gibbs Racing camp.
But durability has definitely been an issue for TRD, which has had to deal with multiple engine failures along the way. That’s frustrating enough, but then you have to consider some of the times when those motors have blown up. In the season-opening Daytona 500, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were fighting for the lead when they lost their engines within minutes of each other. Then, last weekend at Dover, TRD failures stopped strong runs to the front for both Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr (pictured).
With another tough test on engines coming up tomorrow at Pocono Raceway, TRD met with its two main teams, JGR and Michael Waltrip Racing, on Friday to discuss what the group is planning to do in order to create more durable motors.
New TRD acting president and general manager David Wilson admitted to the Associated Press that their motors will take “a little bit of a step back in performance” as part of the process, but also feels that TRD’s multiple wins this year is proof that they can get a handle on things.
“I’d much rather be in this position of saying, ‘We’ve got the performance, now we need to focus on the durability,”‘ he told the AP. “We’ve got a little bit of security with a couple of our drivers having notched a couple of wins.”
One of the TRD-powered drivers, JGR’s Denny Hamlin, said that he was disappointed about the changes but felt that they were ultimately necessary.
“Obviously, they want their first championship, so they’re going to do everything they can to get that,” Hamlin said at Pocono. “I feel like in the off-season, they obviously took a great step forward in power — it showed up on the race track the first 13 weeks and with some issues, now we have to dial it back some and see what the payoff is from power to reliability.
“Because ultimately, with this points system, you have to finish these races and that’s what all the teams identify.”
Three TRD-powered drivers – Clint Bowyer, Kenseth and Kyle Busch – are currently in the Top 10 of the Cup standings.