Toyotas have speed but need better "execution in pit lane"

Last weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas was a winner-take-all day for Toyota but the manufacturer still has plenty of work to do this season.

Toyotas have speed but need better "execution in pit lane"
Listen to this article

Kurt Busch held off Kyle Larson to win last Sunday’s race, giving Toyota its third win of the season. At the same time, Busch led the way as all six of the manufacturer’s factory-backed teams finished in the top-10.

Toyota has shown speed many times through the first third of the season but has had a difficult time producing the results to match.

“We’re sitting on three wins in 13 starts versus how many does Chevrolet have?” Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson said. “They have more than we do (seven). A lot more.

“So, that’s what gets the headlines – ‘Toyota has only won three times in 13 races’ and that’s true, and that’s unacceptable.

“But our performance – other than a couple of data points like Phoenix, Martinsville, COTA we weren’t great – but we’ve definitely narrowed the gap.”

Read Also:

Losing out on pit road

Yet some of the biggest issues that have plagued Toyota teams this season have materialized on pit road – an area where the manufacturer’s teams have traditionally shined.

In Sunday’s race alone, there were numerous examples.

Toyota driver Denny Hamlin twice had to restart at the rear of the field due to equipment interference penalties during pit stops. Hamlin still managed to finish fourth.

Kurt Busch’s 23XI Racing teammate Bubba Wallace was also penalized twice on pit road – once for having a crew member over the wall too soon and an uncontrolled tire on his final stop. Even with that, Wallace still rallied to finish 10th.

Also, Kyle Busch had a pit road speeding penalty late in the race and still finished third.

“We do have work to do, and the area right now we’re focused more so than anywhere else is execution in pit lane,” Wilson said. “I mean that has been a difference-maker. What’s truly been amazing is the fact that we had six cars finish in the top-10 with as many mistakes as were made in pit lane.

“In order to win, you have to execute not just behind the seat, but underneath the hood and on pit lane. It takes a team, and so this has been one of the absolute strengths of Joe Gibbs Racing, historically.

“And for (Joe) Gibbs and I to spend as much time as we have been the past few weeks talking about this is indicative of how we collectively hold ourselves accountable, and we need to fix that.”

Hamlin admits 23XI needs to 'change how we're doing things'

Hamlin, who is also co-owner of 23XI Racing with NBA legend Michael Jordan, said after Sunday’s race that his organization would need to reevaluate its work on pit road.

“We fundamentally have to change how we’re doing things, and that’s in my opinion. I don’t run that department. I wish I did, but we have to make changes for sure on our approach,” he said.

“My biggest thing is I just don’t need ‘Hail Mary’ passes every day. I’m okay with just running the ball sometimes. That’s how you win races, is you manage your risk. When you’ve got the fastest car, just keep me in the game.

“So that part is very, very frustrating, but I think fundamentally there will be changes coming and certainly we saw (Kurt Busch’s) team in particular really have some good solid stops.”

shares
comments

Related video

NASCAR suspends three on Cup driver Justin Haley's team
Previous article

NASCAR suspends three on Cup driver Justin Haley's team

Next article

NASCAR All-Star Race schedule, entry list and how to watch

NASCAR All-Star Race schedule, entry list and how to watch
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021