The president of Toyota Racing Development called the elimination of Kyle Busch’s playoffs due to an engine failure in Bristol, “the worst nightmare imaginable for me personally and for our team.
“We cost Kyle Busch a chance for his third championship,” David Wilson told NBC Sports on Tuesday.
Busch was eliminated in the opening round after suffering engine failures in Darlington and Bristol. It marks the first time in his career that Busch has failed to advance beyond the first round.
Wilson said changes have been made to all Toyota engines ahead of Sunday’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 PM ET on USA Network). The engine changes will be implemented for the remainder of the playoffs.
“We’re not giving up on our performance potential,” Wilson told NBC Sports. “We believe it is prudent enough to get us out of this danger zone.”
Busch’s elimination leaves Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell as Toyota’s only competitors to compete for the drivers’ championship.
“If we’re lucky enough to be able to win a championship with Christopher or Denny by the end of the year, I’ll still be obsessed with what happened, not only in Bristol, but also in Darlington,” Wilson said. “Two engine failures in three weeks are unheard of. It is unacceptable ».
The engine problems come after Toyota did not have an engine failure in the Cup last season.
Wilson said Toyota ran into the problem with its engines.
“We have some kind of instability in our valve train and it seems to be triggered by us bumping into NASCAR’s mandatory rev limiter, interestingly enough,” Wilson said.
At Darlington, Busch skipped a shift from fourth to fifth gear, contributing to the engine failure. “The rev limiter buzzed loudly,” Wilson said, “and a turn and a half later, his engine let go. Now, just to be clear, our stuff should be tough enough. It should be tough enough to handle. .
“In Bristol, NASCAR miscalculated the gear ratio. It was too short. When Kyle, particularly when he was running that upper groove in fifth gear, was hitting the rev limiter, almost every lap. The fact is, we don’t have enough leeway in our valve train right now. This depends on us “.
Wilson also noted that there have been engine failures with each of the other manufacturers this season.
“It’s not the car itself, but some of the components are,” Wilson said. “It is using a five-speed gearbox with closer gear ratios that require drivers to shift gears. The gearbox loads our engines more. Additionally, NASCAR lowered the mandatory rev limiter from 9700, down to 9200 RPM. We are operating in a power band (where) the goal is really to run at around 8500rpm.
“But because of the gear ratios, because of the five speeds, this year we get to the rev limiter much more often than we ever have in the past.”
“Probably, I dare say, if we had the same package as last season, we wouldn’t see any of that. We just haven’t experienced it. We have discovered a weak point in our valve train ”.
Wilson denied Busch received weaker engines in the playoffs because Busch will leave Joe Gibbs Racing after this season for Richard Childress Racing and Chevrolet.
“I’ll say he’s offensive as a professional and someone who takes responsibility as much as I do,” Wilson said of such speculation about Busch’s engines. “And I’ll say for those fans who are actually ignorant enough to suggest this is some sort of conspiracy of the mind to get rid of Kyle Busch soon, I’d just say go back and try to find the flat earth boundary. Is absurd”.
Wilson said he and Busch spoke after Busch decided to sign with Richard Childress Racing and focused on the rest of this season.
“We both emphasized our intention to have a mic drop moment in Phoenix, as he will win his third championship and take that championship with him,” Wilson said. “Obviously, for Toyota, losing Kyle in a championship run is a huge setback. Kyle Busch is money in the playoffs. … Losing it, we take a big hit. There is no upside. There is no upside. It is just a blow to our organization
“There’s nothing I can do. I apologized to Kyle. I apologized to (Joe) Gibbs. This is up to us and we hated that we let them down.”
Regarding the power steering issues in Bristol that a number of teams had, including Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing, Wilson said:
“This new machine and all the new systems we deal with have relatively very few repetitions. This is our first time running in Bristol, a very tight half mile on concrete. In a relative sense, I assume we loaded more load into that steering rack, into that power steering system, than anywhere else. It was really too much. We were all freaking out while it was happening, because I think the (power steering problems for Ty Gibbs, Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace) all happened within 20 laps of each other. It is simply unbelievable.
“I know, at least two or three of those cars literally blew the seals in the (steering) rack, which was due to too much pressure. So I don’t know what repair opportunity there is from the team’s point of view.
“Even when there was no terminal problem, I know that almost every week the riders, at various levels and on different circuits, have been unhappy with their steering.
“There is no doubt that NASCAR and the teams are watching (this). … We have to solve this problem by moving forward ”.
After dealing with the various challenges in the first round of play-offs, Wilson said he concluded a team meeting on Tuesday telling TRD employees that “the size of this team is not defined by the moments of comfort and success, it is defined and by how we respond. in moments of stress and failure “.