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Toyotas fast in Phoenix but engine troubles could be a concern

By admin | March 2, 2013

Matt Kenseth’s Toyota led the most laps in Daytona before having an engine expire. 

By Richard Allen

Toyotas have led every practice session and had Mark Martin set fast time during qualifying this weekend at the Phoenix International Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup teams prepare for Sunday’s running of the Subway Fresh Fit 500. However, there must be at least some concern in the auto manufacturer’s camp regarding the durability of their engines.

In the season opening Daytona 500, Toyota drivers spent a great deal of time running at the front of the field. But almost as if someone had flipped a switch, those front runners experienced engine troubles that eliminated from NASCAR’s biggest race. Matt Kenseth led the most laps of the race in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota before having his power plant expire while teammate Kyle Busch followed him to the garage just moments later.

After the JGR breakdowns, Michael Waltrip Racing driver Martin Truex, Jr. had to limp to the finish with a soured engine after challenging for the lead with 25 laps to go. Michael Waltrip himself also had an engine going bad at the checkered flag in Daytona.

Virtually all Toyota teams, including JGR and MWR, receive their engines from Toyota Racing Development(TRD) rather than build their own. Granted, there is a much different engine package for the one-mile track in Phoenix than on the 2.5 mile restrictor plate track in Daytona. However, engine woes on all sorts of tracks are not new for Toyota.

In 2012, there were multiple failures for the brand. Most notably, there was a stretch of three consecutive races at mid-season in which Busch was unable to finish due to engine trouble. He ultimately failed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff as a result.

Once again, those issues have surfaced in Phoenix. Denny Hamlin’s JGR team was forced to change the power plant in their car after Saturday’s early practice session. That driver will be forced to start at the rear of the field due to the change despite posting the 8th fastest time in qualifying. According to SPEED’s Bob Dilner, there was an internal vibration in the No. 11 car’s engine that the team was unable to repair.

No doubt after the Hamlin issue, there is at least some concern in the Toyota, JGR and MWR camps going into Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.

 *Note* On Sunday morning, ESPN’s Marty Smith reported that Kyle Busch’s crew has also opted to change the TRD engine in their car.

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “Toyotas fast in Phoenix but engine troubles could be a concern”

  1. Ella Says:
    March 2nd, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I was so surprised when the engine problems kept occurring at Daytona. I don’t understand why Toyota wasn’t able to get a handle on it during the off season. There has been some talk in the past that the failures were not from a single cause but from different parts failures. Seems to me that can be addressed too. Couldn’t help but feel sorry for Kyle Busch last year - doomed season.

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 3rd, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Rich, My understanding is that BK Racing builds their own engines.

    If that is the case it will be interesting to see if they have the same failures as TRD. Granted their cars are slow but they are only one year old and have had to build their own cars this year, compared to using the old red bull cars.

    The fact still remains that both of their cars didn’t have engine problems last week.

  3. Jesse Says:
    March 3rd, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Rich, don’t worry or have those great Toyota fans in a uproar, their engine factory in CA is working overtime to get this solved. You see they did not come into Nascar to finish out of first place. The Ford and Chevrolet teams don’t have that billion dollar factory to rely on, you see most of those teams have been around for years working to improve, Toyota just built a factory to out spend them all. Jack Roush said that from the beginning.

  4. Daniel Says:
    March 3rd, 2013 at 9:43 am

    The failures of Toyota prove once again that their inconsistency will be a factor for both the manufacturer’s and driver’s championships this year.