This past weekend, Kyle Busch was eliminated from the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway after suffering from engine failure.
Needless to say, Toyota is truly feeling the weight of costing Busch the possibility at another championship.
David Wilson, the president of Toyota Racing Development, told NBC Sportsthat it was “the worst nightmare imaginable for me personally and for our team,” stating:
“We cost Kyle Busch a shot at his third championship.”
This isn’t the first time he’s suffered from engine failure this year, as Busch was eliminated from Darlington a few weeks back for the same reason in the opening round. Twice in three weeks for the two-time champ? Pretty ridiculous.
Wilson assured that changes have been made to the Toyota engines before Sunday’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, to assure something like this doesn’t happen again:
“We’re not giving up our performance potential. We feel like it’s conservative enough to get us kind of out of this danger zone.”
After Busch’s elimination, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell are the only two Toyota drivers racing in the championship.
“Whether we’re so fortunate enough to possibly win a championship with either Christopher or Denny later this year, I’m still going to be haunted by what happened, not just in Bristol, but Darlington as well. Two engine failures across three weeks is unheard of. It’s unacceptable.”
Wilson also explained what happened with Busch at Darlington and Bristol:
“We have some sort of an instability in our valve train and it seems to be triggered by us running into NASCAR’s mandated rev limiter, interestingly enough.
He buzzed the rev limiter hard, and a lap-and-a-half later, his engine let go. Now, just to be clear, our stuff should be durable enough. It should be tough enough to handle that.
At Bristol, NASCAR miscalculated the gear ratio. It was too short. When Kyle, particularly when he was running that upper groove in fifth gear, he was hitting the rev limiter, almost every lap. The fact is that right now we just don’t have enough durability margin in our valve train. That’s on us.”
Wilson admitted that new adjustments in their rules for engines has stirred some problems.
And of course, there’s the conspiracy that Toyota was giving Busch weaker engines because they knew he was about to leave Joe Gibbs Racing for Richard Childress Racing next season, but Wilson denied the rumors:
“I’ll say that it is offensive as a professional and somebody who takes their responsibility as greatly as I do.
And I’ll say for those fans who are actually ignorant enough to suggest that this is some sort of a mastermind conspiracy to rid ourselves of Kyle Busch early, I would simply say go back to trying to find the edge of the flat earth. It’s absurd.”
He also noted that he and Busch talked after his decision to move on from Joe Gibbs Racing:
“We both underscored our intent to have a mic drop moment in Phoenix, in he’s going to win his third championship and he’s going to take that championship with him.
Obviously, for Toyota, losing Kyle in a run through a championship is a massive setback. Kyle Busch is money in the playoffs. … By losing him, we take a big hit. There’s zero upside. There’s zero upside. It’s just a crushing blow to our organization.
There’s nothing I can do. I’ve apologized to Kyle. I’ve apologized to (Joe) Gibbs. This is on us and hated that we let them down.”
As much as you love to hate Kyle Busch sometimes, it sucks not having him making a deep run in the playoffs.
If you love NASCAR, and racing in general, you want to see the sport’s best drivers in the final, and Kyle is definitely one of them.
The first race of the Cup Series Round of 12 gets underway this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.