Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing Development will join forces in a single engine program to build NASCAR Toyota units from 2012.
The leading Toyota Sprint Cup team had been reviewing its engine program following reliability issues that have hampered its season, but instead of scrapping its own effort, JGR will add to the strengths of the TRD-built units.
Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have suffered from repeated failures during the year, not only in races but also during practice sessions. Earlier this season, Joey Logano retired at Phoenix with an engine issue, Kyle Busch had one at Las Vegas, while Denny Hamlin had his share at Fontana. A handful more have taken place before races placing them at the back of the grid as a penalty a number of times.
JGR has had its own engine program since becoming a Toyota team – led by builder Mark Cronquist – ahead of the 2008 season, while Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing have been getting their units from TRD, which has enjoyed a superior durability record this year. For 2012, JGR will get units from TRD, but there will be development from both parties in an effort to put together a stronger engine program.
Although the new structure was said to be looking at next year, Joe Gibbs Racing President JD Gibbs didn't rule out it making a debut before the end of the current season. Toyota has currently two drivers in position to be in the Chase – Kyle Busch all but locked in with three wins – besides Hamlin's position.
"Over the past few years we've had many joint projects with TRD and this is the last piece," said JD Gibbs. "Even this year with the issues we've had, we've taken our engines to TRD and they've helped us out a lot a few times... They've done that over the past few years, so it's not about to start in 2012. It's been ongoing."
TRD president and general manager Lee White said the new structure will give security to the company's personnel in Costa Mesa, Calif., given the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Red Bull team after it was announced the energy drinks giant is pulling the plug on its NASCAR squad at the end of the year.
White said that just like other engine builders as Roush-Yates or Earnhardt Childress supply units for at least six Cup teams plus Nationwide and Trucks, they are looking to get more costumers, including considering a supply for what the current Red Bull team possibly turns into next year. The Toyota engines will no longer differ between their teams next season, White adding those of JGR and MWR will be "identical" in 2012.
"With Red Bull Racing leaving sport this gives a lot of security to TRD," White said. "It brings JGR, Michael Waltrip Racing and us, all three entities much close together, supporting their programs on the racetrack."
White also expects its sole engine program will reap benefits from TRD's experience with fuel injection systems, as the Sprint Cup series shifts from the carburetors next year.