Toyota’s have dominated the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season thus far, and Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch’s early wins in the playoffs have some individuals around the sport calling for the sanctioning body to make rule changes to slow the Japanese manufacturer down in order to create better competition week to week.
Should NASCAR slow the Toyota’s down for the remaining eight playoff races?
Don’t Complain, Get Better
I’ve had enough of the complaints from drivers, team members, fans, media and the like about how Toyota has such a big advantage this season.
I have a great, novel idea that might help Chevrolet, Ford and the other manufacturers catch up. Wait for it, wait for it…
Go to work.
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
Toyota is the best in the sport right now for a multitude of reasons. Starting out with the thing that makes the world go round: money.
Ford and Chevrolet have poured gallons upon gallons into their respective programs, but Toyota has one-upped them. Maybe not in the amount of capital they’re devoting, but where they’re devoting it.
In short, Griffin said that one of the main reasons Toyota has such a big advantage now is because they’ve committed so much to the lower series. Both the Camping World Truck and XFINITY series regulars are dominated by Toyotas. Not to mention both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West divisions, as Todd Gilliland is going for a sweep of both championships in a Toyota.
But why should the sanctioning body step in to correct a problem that’s not their fault?
Toyota’s dominance can be attributed to two main parties: Toyota itself and the other manufacturers that keep losing to them week in and week out.
I challenge the bowtie and blue oval brigade to step up their games, not rely on NASCAR to even out the playing field for them. This is a big boy sport. Nobody is going to babysit you.
I know the sanctioning body has stepped in and corrected “problems” like these in the past, but these are different times. I bet you that 99.9 percent of fans, drivers, executives, etc. back then would have never guessed that we’d have stage racing, no Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, soon to be Dale Earnhardt Jr., an intricate, round-by-round playoff system and that we’d have another seven-time champion.
Unprecedented times, people. Unprecedented times.
And for those of you who think Toyota is paying me to write this? I drive a Fusion. So you’re wrong.
The point is this, folks: Toyota has earned where it currently is in the hierarchy of NASCAR. It hasn’t been given. Remember those early stages of Toyota Racing Development with Red Bull, BK, JGR (before they were the JGR of 2017) and others? Because I do. And it wasn’t pretty.
Now with six of the fastest cars, best drivers, and most well-rounded teams in the garage, they’re staring the Monster Cup straight in the face. And if (more like when) Toyota earns that trophy, I better not hear anybody asking NASCAR to take that advantage away. – Davey Segal
Give Us a Race, Not a Parade
I give Toyota a lot of credit. In 10 short years, it became the dominant manufacturer of NASCAR.
I remember how horrible those Camrys were when they first entered the sport with Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing in 2007. Toyota has truly worked hard and poured in tons of resources to become the cars to beat.
That being said, Toyota’s dominance is hurting the sport, and the governing body needs to take away whatever gigantic advantage it has over Ford and Chevrolet.
You don’t believe that the Toyotas have a huge advantage?
Truex’s No. 78 Toyota was involved in a wreck this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and still managed a top-five finish. He beat somewhere around 25 cars that did not have damage. Meanwhile, Busch’s Toyota almost lapped the field en route to victory.
The week before that, Truex stunk up the race at Chicagoland Speedway. Truex was so much better than the rest of the field that Chase Elliott’s team cheated by putting tape on the spoiler of his Chevrolet and still had nothing for Truex.
When teams are cheating and still not able to beat the Toyotas, it screams that the manufacturer has too much of a competitive edge and it’s time for NASCAR to step in.
I realize this sounds like the classic statement from a member of the participation trophy generation, but I am not saying it for Ford and Chevy’s benefit; I am saying it for NASCAR’s benefit.
The first two races of this year’s playoffs, and much of the regular season, have been considered duds because they weren’t races, they were parades. Every race, you have to figure that either Busch or Truex are going to win by a landslide. Who wants to see that?
It’s the same reason I won’t watch the New England Patriots play the Cleveland Browns. If the Browns only lost that game by 20 points then it would be a decent outing. Right now, if Ford and Chevy only lose by 20 seconds to Busch or Truex, then it is a decent outing.
The whole point of having playoffs is to have 16 drivers capable of winning races and championships. It will take a miracle for a Ford or Chevy driver to win the title this year.
NASCAR is trying to get more manufacturers in the sport, but letting one dominate is hurting those chances. If the sanctioning body does not help Ford and Chevy close the gap, why should those two stick around?
NASCAR somehow convinced Dodge to come back in 2001 to less than stellar results. With the exception of Brad Keselowski’s championship, the manufacturer did next to nothing and left the sport. Had NASCAR helped Dodge close the gap then maybe it would still be around.
No manufacturer wants to be a part of a sport in which is has little shot at winning.
Back in the 1990s, manufacturer wars were a big part of the sport. The Chevys would get ahead and NASCAR would change the rules for Fords to catch up and vice versa. Let’s not forget that that time period was one in which NASCAR saw tons of growth. Parity among manufacturers likely helped that.
We have zero parity among makes right now and it is having the opposite effect on the sport.
NASCAR, for the sake of all of the bored to death fans everywhere, please slow those Toyotas down. – Michael Massie
About the author
Davey is in his fifth season with Frontstretch and currently serves as a multimedia editor and reporter. He authors the "NASCAR Mailbox" column, spearheads the site's video content and hosts the Frontstretch Podcast weekly. He's covered the K&N Pro Series and ARCA extensively for NASCAR.com and currently serves as an associate producer for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and production assistant for NBC Sports Washington. Follow him on Twitter @DaveyCenter.