By admin | April 27, 2013
By Richard Allen
If you haven’t heard that Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team were hammered earlier this week by NASCAR for an issue with their engine, then you might want to think about emerging fromÂ beneath that rock you’ve been hiding under. During an inspection of the winning car from the Sprint Cup race in Kansas at the NASCAR R&D Center, one of the connecting rods within the power plant weighed less than it was supposed to.
Toyota Racing Development(TRD), theÂ motorsports developmentÂ arm of Toyota that suppliesÂ JGR’s engines, quickly came out and assumed responsibilityÂ for the underweight component and declared that an oversight had occurred. To have one connecting rod that is aÂ three grams less than the weight ofÂ the others offers no competitive advantage. For that matter,Â it’sÂ amazing the engine was not thrown out of balance enough that a failure occured.
So one has to wonder if theÂ error that showed itself after the Kansas race was the first made by TRD.
Remember back in the early seasonÂ when Toyota’s suffered several engine issues?Â Kenseth and JGR teammate Kyle Busch dropped from the Daytona 500 at almost the same moment with blown engines. One week later, Busch and fellow JGR driver Denny Hamlin experienced engine troubles during practice at the Phoenix International Raceway.
In 2011, JGR announcedÂ that it would give up trying to build its own engines and switch to TRD because of reliability, power and cost reasons.
As the article linked above points out, TRD officials were quick to point out that these failures were unrelated. And they may well have been unrelated in terms of the specific pieces and parts that broke. However, the bigger issue for TRD could be that mistakes are being made throughout the entire engine building process.
The worst case scenario,and perhaps a blessing as well,Â for TRD is that the Kansas post-race issue revealed a bigger problem than faulty parts that led to previousÂ failures. Carelessness led to a major penalty for one of TRD’s customers. Could it be that other signs of carelessness were never revealed because those engines failed before they made it to the end of the races they were meant for?
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