NASCAR has a problem. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, both former Cup Series champions, were knocked out prematurely for hardware reasons more than hard work.
Meanwhile, TV ratings went down the toilet last weekend, and the sport is moving into the second stage of the playoffs at a time when the men who couldn’t make the playoffs were outsmarting supposed stars.
As with Kyle Busch, NASCAR isn’t having a great month
As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway, seven of the eight most recent winners either did not qualify for the playoffs or dropped out in the first round. Among them is Kyle Busch, who got more news than any other driver in 2022. Now, the sport’s executives must ask if they give people enough reasons to keep watching.
TV ratings drop For Bristol, the elimination race is critical, and the competition is getting tougher. College and professional football is in full swing, and MLB still has eight precarious playoff berths with two weeks left in the regular season.
Frankly, the biggest NASCAR headlines over the past couple of months have been about Busch’s future, and he’s now out of research. Worse, his comrades slashed him.
Toyota Racing boss has ‘worst nightmare imaginable’
David Wilson wasn’t overstating the issue on Tuesday when he called Kyle Bush’s elimination from the playoffs from the NASCAR Cup Series “the worst nightmare imaginable for me personally and our team. We cost Kyle Bush a chance in his third championship.”
Wilson is Toyota Racing Development’s president, and the motorsports world looks to him to explain why two of Busch’s last three races could have ended with torn engines, causing him to withdraw from qualifying at the opening round for the first time. Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell are the only Toyota drivers left in Final 12.
“Whether we’re lucky enough to win a championship with Christopher or Denny later this year, I’m still haunted by what happened, not only in Bristol, but also in Darlington,” Wilson told NBC Sports. “Two engine failures in three weeks are unheard of. This is unacceptable.”
The failure in Bristol came days after Bosch announced he would be leaving for Richard Childress’s race when the season is over. This forced Wilson to take the loathsome attitude of having to deny Toyota which had given the No. 18 engine lower entry once negotiations to stay with Joe Gibbs Racing were disrupted.
“I would say it’s offensive as a professional and someone who is responsible for it as much as I do,” Wilson said.
It’s too late to help Kyle Bush
David Wilson, executive director of Toyota Racing, said all of the engines this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway had been tweaked due to problems Kyle Busch had in two of the three races.
“We have some kind of instability in our valve train, and it appears to be caused by our entry into the NASCAR-mandated tachymeter,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, Bosch put pressure on his engine with a missed shift to fifth gear in Darlington to start qualifying, but that shouldn’t be enough to cook the engine a minute later. Bristol’s problem appears to be the engine not being able to handle the car running in fifth gear much and hitting the NASCAR rpm limiter. None of the other thirteen cars had this problem.
“The reality is that at the moment we don’t have a sufficient margin of durability in our valvetrain,” Wilson said.
The result is that Toyota’s hopes now rest only on Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell. The goal is to send the most successful driver ever – by a large margin – out the window.
“It is just a fatal blow to our organization,” Wilson said. “There is nothing I can do. I apologized to Kyle. I apologized to (Joe) Gibbs. That’s on us, and I hated that we let them down.”
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