TRD Provides More Power For Michigan

Toyota car

Drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing should have a little more horsepower this coming weekend at Michigan International Speedway after suffering no issues with their toned-down engines at Pocono, a Toyota Racing Development official told Motor Racing Network on Tuesday. (Photo: Getty Images)

Drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing should have a little more horsepower this weekend at Michigan International Speedway after suffering no issues with their toned-down engines at Pocono, a Toyota Racing Development official told Motor Racing Network on Tuesday.

TRD reduced horsepower in its engines at Pocono Raceway after suffering three failures the previous two races.  While all those engines made it to the end Sunday, Pocono marked the first time this season that a TRD engine did not place in the top five.  Kyle Busch was the top finisher, in sixth place.

"We may have been a bit too conservative at Pocono," said David Wilson, TRD's acting president and general manager.  "We still need to look at some parts and pieces before we pull the trigger, but we certainly don’t anticipate stepping back any further.  Our target is to start clawing back one weekend at a time."

Wilson looks at Pocono as a "big-picture day," even with only three of its engines placing in the top 15.

"As we laid out for our drivers and crew chiefs (last) Friday morning our near-term plan, we needed a little bit of time to get our house in order," Wilson said.

Drivers talked after the race about how they lacked power.  Busch was third on the final restart but fell back to sixth.  Denny Hamlin, who has four wins at that track, said the horsepower reduction played a role in him not contending for a win.

"I’m a racer.  I’d rather blow up leading than run 15th all day," he said.  "That’s just our mentality.  We’d rather know that we have a chance to win.  (At Pocono) that was out of the question.  The draft has a big effect.  I wasn’t really able to suck up to anyone down the straightaway.  If somebody was within three car lengths of me coming off the corner, they were going to be beside me by the time we got to the (next) corner.  That’s where I noticed it the most."

Wilson said preliminary inspections by TRD officials on the Pocono engines showed no valve train issues, which had been a concern.

"Michigan will be another test, but the good news is we continue to make some headway back home in the shop," he said.  "Any performance changes are going to be in the right direction."

Michigan and Pocono are among the tracks that test engines.  Pocono’s long straightawawys and low-banked corners have drivers on and off the gas constantly.  At Michigan International Speedway, drivers stay on the gas and rarely give the engine a rest.

Six engines failed in last year’s two Michigan races, including one TRD engine and three from Hendrick Motorsports.

Engine failures to TRD drivers Hamlin (25th in points) and Martin Truex Jr. (17th) could hinder their post-season Chase hopes.

"Our goal right now isn’t just to win races every week," Wilson said.  "Our goal right now is to put as many Toyota drivers into the Chase as possible.  That goes to our decision to pull back a step."

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