The change comes as Bush was eliminated from the play-offs last weekend in Bristol and Hamlin advanced to the second round.
Prior to the Bristol race, Busch’s pit crew finished second in the series in four-wheel average stopping times, according to Racing Insights. Bush’s pit crew averaged 11.7 seconds. That was three tenths of a second faster than Hamlin’s pit crew, who finished seventh according to Racing Insights.
Changes in pit crew between a non-playoff team and a playoff team in the same organization are not uncommon in this series.
Changing pit crew members is also not new this season for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace changed some crew members in early July ahead of the Atlanta race. Joe Gibbs Racing also provides pit crews for 23XI Racing. The change was made to strengthen both teams. Bell has a 4.0 average in the first round of the playoffs. Wallace won the playoff race in Kansas.
President of Toyota Racing Development calls Kyle BushPlayoff elimination due to engine failure at Bristol, âthe worst nightmare imaginable for me personally and for our team.
âWe cost Kyle Bush a chance at his third championship,â David Wilson told NBC Sports on Tuesday.
Busch was eliminated in the first round with engine failure at Darlington and Bristol. This is the first time in his career that Bush has failed to make it past the first round.
Wilson said the changes were made to all Toyota engines ahead of Sunday’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on the USA Network). Engine changes will be implemented for the remaining playoff games.
“We’re not giving up on our potential,” Wilson told NBC Sports. “We feel it’s conservative enough to get us out of that danger zone.”
Bush’s elimination leaves Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell as the only Toyota competitors in the drivers’ championship.
âWhether or not we are lucky enough to win a championship with Christopher or Denny later this year, I will still be haunted by what happened not only in Bristol but also in Darlington,â said Wilson. âTwo engine failures in three weeks is unheard of. This is unacceptable”.
The engine problems came after Toyota didn’t have a single engine failure in the Cup last season.
Wilson said Toyota has identified a problem with its engines.
âWe have some sort of instability in our valvetrain and it appears to be caused by us running into a mandatory NASCAR rev limiter, which is interesting enough,â Wilson said.
At Darlington, Busch missed an upshift from fourth to fifth, resulting in engine failure. âHe hit the rev limiter hard,â Wilson said, âand after a lap and a half, his engine stalled. Now, to be clear, our stuff needs to be strong enough. It should be tough enough to handle it.
âIn Bristol, NASCAR miscalculated the gear ratio. It was too short. When Kyle, especially when he was racing the top groove in fifth gear, he hit the rev limiter almost every lap. The fact is that now we simply do not have enough margin of safety in our valve mechanism. It’s on us.”
Wilson also noted that every other manufacturer had engine failures this season.
âIt’s not about the car itself, but about some of its components,â Wilson said. âIt works with a five-speed transmission with closer gear ratios that require drivers to change gears. Shifting gears puts more stress on our engines. In addition, NASCAR has lowered its mandatory rev limiter from 9700 rpm to 9200 rpm. We are running in the powerband (where) the goal is to actually run around 8500rpm.
“But because of the gear ratios, because of the five speeds, we’re getting to the rev limiter more often this year than at any time in the past.”
âPerhaps, I dare say, if we had used the same package as last season, we would not have seen any of this. We just haven’t experienced it. We found a weakness in our valve train.”
Wilson denied that Busch received weaker playoff engines because Busch would leave Joe Gibbs Racing after this season for Richard Childress Racing and Chevrolet.
“I’ll say it’s insulting to both a professional and someone who takes their responsibility as seriously as I do,” Wilson said of this suggestion of Bush’s engines. âAnd I will tell those fans who are actually clueless enough to assume that this is some kind of mastermind plot to get rid of Kyle Bush early on, I would just advise going back to trying to find the edge of the flat earth. This is absurd.”
Wilson said he and Busch spoke after Busch decided to sign with Richard Childress Racing and focused on the rest of this season.
âWe both underlined our intention to create a moment when the microphone goes off in Phoenix as he wins his third championship and takes this championship with him,â Wilson said. âObviously, for Toyota, losing Kyle in the championship is a huge setback. Kyle Busch – Playoff money. â¦ By losing it, we get a big blow. Zero potential. Zero potential. This is just a crushing blow to our organization.
“I can not do anything. I apologized to Kyle. I apologized to (Joe) Gibbs. It’s on us and it’s hateful that we let them down.”
Regarding power steering issues at Bristol that a number of teams have had, including Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing, Wilson said:
âThis new machine and all the new systems we are dealing with have relatively very few repetitions. This is the first time we’ve raced in Bristol, a very difficult half mile on concrete. In a relative sense, I guess we’ve put more effort into this steering rack, this power steering system, than anywhere else. It was too much. We all went crazy when this happened because I think that (problems with power steering for Ty Gibbs, Martin Truex Jr. as well as Bubba Wallace) all happened within 20 laps of each other. It’s just incredible.
âI know that at least two or three of these cars literally burst the seals in the (steering) rack, which came from too much pressure. So I don’t know what are the possibilities for remediation from the team’s point of view.
âEven when it didnât lead to a terminal problem, I know that almost every week, drivers, to varying degrees and on different race tracks, were unhappy with their steering.
âThere is no doubt that NASCAR and the teams are looking at this. â¦ We need to fix this in the future.â
Facing various challenges in the first round of the playoffs, Wilson said he ended Tuesday’s team meeting by telling TRD staff that “The measure of this team is not determined by moments of comfort and success, it is determined by how we respond.” in moments of stress and setbacks.
Ryan BlaneyThe NASCAR Cup Series playoff ride just got tougher.
On Tuesday, NASCAR announced penalties for the No. 12 team due to a loose wheel during Saturday’s pit stop at Bristol Motor Speedway. Crew chief Jonathan Hassler, lifter Graeme Stoddard and rear tire changer Zachary Price were suspended from the next four races.
Blaney’s problems began early in the race when he burst his right front tire and crashed into a wall. He was looking for new tires, but his left rear wheel slipped off the car and bounced down pit road after a few pit stops as he pulled out of the pit.