Toyota looking for horsepower in NASCAR engines

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm •  Published: August 20, 2014
Advertisement
;

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin was clearly frustrated a week ago at Michigan, when some jockeying for position led to a confrontation with Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the race.

His Toyota engine is at the root of Hamlin's displeasure and the manufacturer doesn't disagree. Hamlin said after Sunday's race that he's doing everything he can to keep up with the Hendrick Motorsports engines.

"We need to be better," said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development. "The folks over at the Hendrick shop have done a great job this year, and they've got an edge, not just on us but the others as well."

At this time a year ago, Toyota was headed to Bristol Motor Speedway with nine Sprint Cup wins. The manufacturer picked up another two with consecutive victories at Bristol and Atlanta. This year, Toyota has just two Cup wins with Saturday night's race coming up at Bristol.

"For whatever reason, we got off to a bad start this year," said team owner Joe Gibbs, has Toyota's only two victories this year. "We're trying to close hard and trying to put ourselves in a good position. We've got some good updates coming in the motor, and so hopefully we get hot at the right time. We've been behind."

Wilson doesn't know how far Toyota is behind in horsepower; manufacturers know their own engines, but not the details of their rivals' engines. Wilson said he doesn't think it's as bad as Hamlin portrayed.

"We're not down 50 horsepower, I guarantee you that," Wilson said. "But we also recognize we need to be better and have been very, very candid and open that we're continuing to work to make sure when we get to the Chase, we're more competitive."

Both Hamlin and Kyle Busch have wins this season and will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Matt Kenseth, who had a series-high seven victories a year ago, is winless but should make the Chase on points. Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer is also winless and on the bubble of making the Chase.

"As an engine builder, we always say, 'You're never good enough,'" Wilson said. "Find me a driver that's ever happy with their engine performance, and you're going to find a not very good driver."

___

NASCAR TEST: NASCAR hopes to have the 2015 rules package ready by next month so teams can begin working on next year's cars.

Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's vice president of innovation and racing development, said a Monday test at Michigan International Speedway emphasized rules for intermediate tracks with no plans for a second test.

Continue reading this story on the...