Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 Michigan Quicken Loans Preview: Toyota Horsepower Still a Major Concern This Week

Does Greg Biffle become a major player this week?
The big news last week going into Pocono happened on Wednesday when it was announced by Toyota Racing Development that they would be reducing horsepower on their engines for Pocono and Michigan. Toyota has experienced five wins on the season and had shown more horsepower than any other team on the type of tracks that required the most.

But with that massive output, there was also a negative effect. Three Toyota engines had expired the previous two races and with Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing having cars that are trying to win a championship, expiring engines are not a good thing.

The first thought when I heard the news was that it’s going to rapidly change the odds of all the Toyota drivers, most of whom were considered the favorites to win based on the Toyota horsepower. No track requires more horsepower than Pocono to get down the long front straightaway, so if they’re reducing that power, there go the chances of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to win.

But until I actually saw something on the track, I would hold off any judgment. When they finally got to practice on Saturday after being rained out on Friday, it was apparent that Toyota was slower than they had been all season. None of the Toyota teams were happy with the new version of the engine, which made them all look extremely mediocre.

On race day, Kyle Busch and Hamlin made the most of it with top-10 finishes, but they weren’t ever really competing for the win. They were light years behind what Jimmie Johnson was bringing, and now that takes us to this week’s race at Michigan, where we will again see Toyota-light performing.

Without having a Toyota driver to consider this week, it opens things up for others to compete with Johnson like Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick or maybe even Michigan native Brad Keselowski. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in practices on Saturday to really determine the shape of these Toyota engines, but if it’s anything close to last week, we can put a slash across the name of anyone driving a Toyota Sunday.

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