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Crew members wait with a race car for technical inspection in Long Pond, Pa., Friday, in preparation for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
LONG POND, Pa. - Toyota Racing Development has had the kind of success most manufacturers would love to boast about in the Sprint Cup garage.
Five wins and eight poles in the first 13 races should have TRD riding high. Instead, a few high-profile engine failures has drivers frustrated and TRD looking for answers in time for Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway.
So it was time for a team meeting.
David Wilson, named this week acting president and general manager of TRD, called drivers, crew chiefs and competition directors from Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing together on Friday morning to discuss the changes ahead and plans to boost the engine's durability.
That started with fine-tuning engines already in the cars headed to Pocono.
"It means it's going to be a little bit of a step back in performance," Wilson said. "Just getting them on board and being transparent with them has been helpful. The last thing we want is for them not to feel like a part of this."
TRD is struggling with durability, beginning with the Daytona 500 when Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch suffered engine failures within minutes of each other. Most recently, Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. both suffered engine failures in Sunday's race at Dover. Wilson said the valve train has been the main culprit for the engine woes.
Wilson said the key was to keep the season in perspective. Even if six failures have been unacceptable, there are enough checkered flags piling up to prove TRD has an overall grasp on handling its engines.
"Our drivers love the performance they're getting with the cars," Wilson said. "Crew chiefs are just killing it this year and the engines are strong. We're certainly happy about that."
But in order to win a championship, TRD has to have durability and drivers can't be racing wondering if their engine is next to blow.
Burton wins Truck race
FORT WORTH, Texas - Jeb Burton raced to his first career NASCAR Truck Series victory, holding off a hard-charging Ty Dillon at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.
The 20-year-old Burton, the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward and nephew of current Sprint Cup driver Jeff, led the final 25 laps. He took the lead on the first lap after the final restart by passing Dillon.
NASCAR a ratings winner
Fox said Friday that 13 Sprint Cup races this season averaged a 4.8/10 rating. Fox also said live NASCAR viewership ranked No. 2 among men 18-49 and men 25-54 from February through the end of the broadcast season.
NASCAR on Fox also posted ratings increases in five of the top seven and nine of the nation's 15 biggest markets, including Los Angeles (6 percent) and Chicago (32 percent). Overall, ratings grew 7 percent in the country's 56 biggest markets compared with a year ago.
Last week's race at Dover, the final one this year for Fox, averaged 6 million viewers. The TNT portion of the NASCAR television schedule begins this week at Pocono .
Rain washes out track activity at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. - Rain has washed out Friday's Sprint Cup qualifying at Pocono Raceway.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson will automatically sit on the pole for the start of Sunday's 400-mile race.
It rained all day and cars never got on the track. There are only 43 entries for the race so no driver will miss the field.
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