David Wilson admits Toyota on their "back foot" despite wins

Toyota Racing Development USA President David Wilson joined the media Wednesday to discuss Toyota's NASCAR Cup Series program and their performance so far during the 2020 season.

David Wilson admits Toyota on their "back foot" despite wins
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and David Wilson
Race Winner Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
TRD President David Wilson
Race Winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet
Race Winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota DEWALT Atomic Thank You
Christopher Bell, Leavine Family Racing Toyota Rheem
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER/USO
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry crosses the finish line

"For me to suggest that we're at 100% or we're as good as we normally are is patently false," Wilson said candidly. 

Toyota has won four of the first 12 races, but still seems a bit behind the Chevrolet teams on a week-to-week basis.

"What I think our competition is doing this year is very similar to what we were doing last year and what we are still doing this year," he explained. "So it's not that we've fallen behind as much as they've caught up. And there's no question that the new Chevrolet Camaro and the nose that's on that car has elevated their program. The fact that they're only sitting on two wins right now is shocking to me. I always look at not necessarily just the wins, but the potential. What is the true potential of your race car? 

"You could argue that we're punching above our weight right now and they're not running at their full potential," he concluded.

Wilson believes Toyota is nearly on par with the Ford camp however, but said the Team Penske cars and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team have been executing better. 

'Embarrassing' Martinsville showing

Toyota is looking for their third consecutive win this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, but Wilson admits they are still on their "back foot a little bit." However, he was encouraged by the performance of the Toyota teams at Atlanta and Homestead, while he called the manufacturer's Martinsville showing an 'embarrassment' despite Martin Truex Jr.'s victory.

"In many respects, I feel much better about our loss at Atlanta than our win in Martinsville. As counterintuitive as that sounds, and the reason I say that is because Atlanta we had three cars in the top-five, we led laps and we had a couple of cars that were good enough to win that race. In Martinsville, we embarrassed ourselves. This is one of the most embarrassing races I can remember for the Toyota family. We weren't ready for the new tire Goodyear brought to the race track and there are circumstances behind it, but I'm not even going to make excuses. We weren't prepared for it. Our engine drivability was terrible in pit lane, on restarts and we almost really could have had our worst finish since 2007 had it not been for Martin hanging on long enough to get the car balanced correctly for the tires and putting himself in position ultimately to win the race.

"I was encouraged with what we saw at Homestead. Where we need to be better is our consistency in how we unload from the haulers across the camp. We've had too many guys that are just dog crap for the first stage and use that time to try and catch up and that's unacceptable. We should be better with the tools we have. With the experience we have, we should be better. There's definitely room for improvement. Having said all that, within our camp and within the JGR camp we are still positive because we know our potential is there to lead laps and win races. If we execute consistently on pit lane, if we do a better job with our sim, we will be in a position to win more races."

Kyle Busch's struggles

Both Truex and Denny Hamlin have visited Victory Lane this year, but reigning series champion Kyle Busch has not. Wilson has a theory for why that might be.

"Joe (Gibbs) and I talked after Homestead and talked about Kyle and we're scratching our head a little bit. You know, I'll ad that I think a factor with Kyle and with everybody to varying degrees the fact that we're not practicing. Now that's not an excuse because none of us are practicing, so a lot of this is a measure of how well the teams, the OEMs can prepare and be ready to go racing. But if you know Kyle like we've come to know him, he's not a driver that just straps into the car and goes."

Wilson recounted the story of when Busch first visited the TRD Costa Mesa headquarters, and how he spent hours walking through the facility to understand as much as he could about the operation. He is very engaged with setting up the race car and has lost that with all practice excluded for these abbreviated race weekends. "He co-crew chiefs so to speak and that's gone. (Now) his feedback starts when the green flag stops and we feel that could be part of it."

Read Also:

shares
comments
Austin Dillon "throwing caution to the wind" at Talladega

Previous article

Austin Dillon "throwing caution to the wind" at Talladega

Next article

Stewart-Haas, Penske employees test positive for COVID-19

Stewart-Haas, Penske employees test positive for COVID-19
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020