Many observers thought the Sprint Cup teams with Toyota Racing Development engines would start off the strongest this season.
No less than last year’s Sprint Cup champion, Brad Keselowski, said late in the year that he thought Toyota would have an advantage to start the 2013 season until everyone else could catch up.
Well, the TRD engines were a huge problem this past weekend at the Daytona International Speedway as they saw five drivers in the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series have engine related issues.
In Saturday’s Drive 4 COPD 300, Brian Vickers, Elliott Sadler and Kyle Busch all had engine issues with Busch actually falling out of the race due to his motor blowing. The other two ran hot which could be due to the two-car tandem racing, but nevertheless they had issues.
In Sunday’s Daytona 500, both Busch and Matt Kenseth blew their motors in consecutive laps late in the race. The biggest issue with that is they were running 1-2 when this happened and coming to the waning laps of making their final pit stop.
They weren’t the only Toyotas to have issues as only one Toyota finished in the top 10 and two total in top 15.
The question must be asked, whether this a Toyota issue or a Joe Gibbs Racing issue? JGR used to build its own engines, but decided to switch to the TRD engines used by the other Toyota teams after experiencing a rash of engine failures last season. Now they must be asking themselves why they bothered to make the switch.
These questions will be answered as both of NASCAR’s top series head to Phoenix International Raceway this week to race in the desert. The early weather forecast shows the highs will be in the lower to mid 80s. If the engines can hold up in the heat, they should be fine for the season.
But if there are engine issues once again, the Toyotas may be in trouble.
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