Tuesday, Dec 05

ToyotaCare Racing Team's Championship Chances Fade into the Smoke at Texas

Kyle Busch and his No. 51 ToyotaCare Racing team entered Friday night's WinStar World Casino 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Texas Motor Speedway having closed the gap in the Owner's Championship standings to 15 points and were hopeful that with another strong run in the 147-lap event they could continue lassoing in the series leading No. 88 team. When the green flag dropped, optimism rose as Busch catapulted from his 11th starting position to the fourth spot by the second lap. The Las Vegas native ran inside the top two spots over the first 30 laps, while Matt Crafton's No. 88 Toyota ran in the back half of the top 15.


After the first caution of the night on lap 25 and ensuing pit stops, Busch was able to muscle his way past eventual race winner Ty Dillon for two laps before settling back into the runner-up spot. Shortly after, the team's owner-driver communicated that his temperature gauges were rising and asked his spotter and the team to try and get a look at his Tundra to see if there was debris on the grill.  It was eventually determined that indeed there was something on the grill and after several attempts to dislodge the item by running behind other competitors, the No. 51 Toyota was forced to visit pit road under green-flag conditions so that the over-the-wall crew could remove the debris.


Busch returned to the track one lap down in the 26th spot. He communicated that the temperatures had cooled, but felt that the engine was running at less than full power. Knowing that every point was valuable and trying to keep his team in the championship hunt, the team's owner-driver gave his Tundra everything it had, hoping that somehow it would make it to the finish or possibly the No. 88 team would also experience problems. As the race continued, the issues would persist and after two more trips down pit road, the engine on the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra would terminally expire with big puff of smoke on lap 97, leaving the team with a disappointing 28th-place finish. To compound matters, Crafton gained several positions in the closing laps to bring home a 10th-place finish and expand the lead in the championship standings to 32 points with just two races remaining.


"It must have got trash on the grill early and then once it got hot -- these motors can't get hot and recover," Busch said.  "Surprised it recovered as good as it did there for a while and it sort of got hot again.  I don't think there was trash on the grill, I think it was just build-up of heat in the motor.  Ultimately there, we were just trying to suffer on and see if we couldn't make it to the end -- see if it would live.  Once they get hot a bunch of things internally start going wrong and eventually it goes real bad.  I hate it for all these guys.  We were in the hunt for the owner's championship -- this pretty much eliminates it.  It sucks.  This Toyota Care Tundra has been awesome this year.  These guys have done a whale of a job.  We've been fast a lot, we've won a lot and had a really fast truck here tonight, but nobody was going to touch the 3 (Ty Dillon)."




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