Wilson named acting TRD president
June 06, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Senior Vice President David Wilson has been named acting president and general manager for Toyota Racing Development (TRD) USA.
Wilson will continue his role as SVP in addition to overseeing daily operations of the company. TRD supplies engines and technical support for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams of Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing.
TRD officials announced June 4 that longtime president and GM Lee White was stepping down immediately due to family health concerns.
Although three Toyota drivers -- Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch -- are currently in the top-10 in points, engine issues have put the racing arm of the automaker in the news. Kenseth’s and MWR driver Martin Truex Jr.’s problems this past weekend at Dover raised the total to six on-track engine-related issues for TRD this season.
Kenseth has three wins through this year’s first 13 races, Busch has won twice while Bowyer is still looking for his first win of the year.
There’s no doubt Toyota teams have been fast. But the durability issues appear to have escalated. Wilson said Wednesday that changes to the TRD engines would likely be implemented in time for this weekend’s Cup race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Such changes should improve the life of the engine, but would likely mean sacrificing horsepower.
“It’s a constant tightrope that you walk,” Wilson said of such a tradeoff Saturday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. “I would venture to say that with the current scoring system, you need to finish the race. The penalty for finishing 38th or worse is too severe. You have to have an engine that is durable.”
Weekly feedback from the teams, Wilson said, drives the organization’s “level of urgency or intensity” when it comes to implementing any changes.
“So in the background, we’re working on the next engine spec every day, every week,” he said. “That never stops. It then becomes a strategic exercise as to when we decide, ‘OK we need to target … our next engine upgrade.’ That’s based upon how we believe we are performing against the competition, the feedback, the confidence level from our drivers.
“It's a constantly evolving cycle of development, then trying to time the implementation.”
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