Toyota doesn't want to see its competitors going to the rear because of post-qualifying engine changes - and neither does NASCAR.
Wear problems between the camshaft and lifters in engines supplied by Toyota Racing Development precipitated post-qualifying engine changes in the Camrys of David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Brian Vickers and Scott Speed.
This marks the second straight week TRD teams have been victimised by similar issues. Last week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Vickers, the pole winner, and Michael Waltrip changed engines. NASCAR's one-engine rule stipulates that the penalty for changing power plants is dropping to the rear of the field for the start of a race.
The engine change that will send pole winner Kyle Busch to the rear for the start of Sunday's Shelby 427 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was for an unrelated issue. Joe Gibbs Racing builds the engines for the #18 Toyota Busch drives; Busch blew an engine during Friday's Cup pre-qualifying practice session to necessitate the engine change.
TRD president Lee White said Saturday that Toyota hasn't identified the specific problem but has changed some of its lubricants in an attempt to correct the issue.
"It's a wear issue between the camshafts and the lifters, so it's either a coating, lubrication, lack of lubrication, too much lubrication, not enough coating, material situation, or just a simple fact that we haven't been testing," White said.
"No one has been at the racetrack running anything - we haven't been to our proving grounds in over a month. When NASCAR said there isn't any testing, we didn't test. So Fontana is the first time - aside from two tyre tests - that we have been on the racetrack in cars. We did a mountain of testing in dynos, but we don't race dynos."
White added that talks with NASCAR have been constructive.
"They were supportive, understood that we had issues and then obviously concerned about teams and sponsors and the image of the series - just like we are - but supportive," White said. "We explained to them what we are trying to do, in the near term and long term, and they said 'Fine, sounds like a good direction, and make it work'.”by Reid Spencer/Sporting News