Monday, March 4, 2013

TRD on its engines: "It's our responsibility" to get them right

   David Wilson, Senior Vice President of Toyota Racing Development, joined co-host Danielle Trotta on Monday night's edition of NASCAR Race Hub on Speed to talk about the recent engine trouble hampering Toyota’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race teams.

   He talked about some of the early season difficulties and how the manufacturer, working with the teams, is remedying the situation.

   Danielle Trotta: You’ve described the problems that we’ve seen in the first two races as an emotionally charged issue, what has the past few weeks been like for you and TRD?

   David Wilson: Certainly, the last thing you want to do is start off the season by digging a hole for any of your drivers. It’s our responsibility to give them enough trouble-free weekends and build that confidence back up. I feel the most for Kyle (Busch) because purely by circumstance, purely by misfortune, he’s suffered the most amongst all of our drivers in the past couple of years. We likely cost him (Kyle) a shot in The Chase last year. We all know how well he ran during those last 10 races, and we’ve all done the math there. First a foremost, is to first ‘man up’ and take responsibility, and try and give them the confidence that we are going to get this sorted, and we are going to put them in position to win races, which we know our equipment is capable of.

   Trotta: When you experience problems like this in the first two weeks of the season, I know you are already at the track; do you increase personnel at the track or back in California in any way, when you’re going through something like this?

   Wilson: Absolutely, it’s a great question. We typically do (have more people) at Daytona anyway because it is our Super Bowl. Coming there, with the new ‘Gen 6’ Toyota Camry, it is all hands on deck, so we staffed up specifically for that. Given the fact that we did have some issues at Daytona, we did bring out a couple more engineers, a couple more technicians, which was made a lot easier because we are out here on the West Coast. We have plenty of hands and plenty of resources at the race tracks to handle these issues as they come up.

   Trotta: Moving forward to Vegas, you’ve said that you’ve got enough performance, but what (you) don’t have enough of is margin and safety. That’s where your focus is. Could you explain more about that?

   Wilson: As we take our engines to the race track, one of the most important things that we do in developing those engines, is making sure that they do have the reliability and the durability because clearly, if we’re not seeing failures here at the shop, but we’re seeing them at the race track, then we’re not pushing the engines hard enough. Based on what we saw at Phoenix, our engine configuration heading to Vegas is essentially the same as we ran this past weekend. We’re quite comfortable that we’ll not just have some good performances, but good reliability for all of the Toyota teams in Vegas.

If only the air wasn't so clean in NASCAR

   Several NASCAR drivers, including Denny Hamlin and reigning champion Brad Keselowski, in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix expressed frustration with the difficulty in passing.

    After the race, Keselowski was asked how important 'clean air' was with the new model Cup car. His answer sounded strangely familiar.

    "I think it’s probably more important than ever. I think these cars probably drive easier than any race car I’ve ever driven in my life by themselves, and probably the hardest to drive of any race car I’ve ever driven in traffic," he said. "I think we can get that a little bit better and probably make them a little more difficult to drive by yourself, but a little easier to drive in traffic, we could have even better races than what we had today."