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Gibbs And Toyota To Combine Forces For Future

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 11 2011

Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota will take on the challenges of new NASACR engine technology together. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

A partnership between Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing Development will provide a more united front in 2012 when NASCAR begins using fuel injected engines and result in JGR and Michael Waltrip Racing using the same engine packages, company executives said Thursday.

TRD has 32 years of experience developing, building and operating fuel injected engines. JGR’s 17-year-old engine department’s expertise has been with normally aspirated [carburetted] engines. Due to NASCAR having yet to release its 2012 EFI system’s configuration, TRD USA President and General Manager Lee White said the amount of work to be done at its Costa Mesa, Calif., facility versus at JGR still had to be determined.

“Right now, at the start, most of the engines will come from Costa Mesa and then we’ll be adding on parts and pieces here and doing R&D from the Joe Gibbs standpoint,” JGR President J.D. Gibbs said during Thursday’s teleconference. “We’ll combine that package. Then when you go to the track our guys will be right in the middle of the communication back and forth. That will be valuable for our team and the Michael Waltrip group as well.”

Gibbs expects JGR engine department head Mark Cronquist as well as some other JGR engine department employees to travel more to the track than in recent years as they work with the fuel injection system next season.

Several weeks ago Gibbs denied rumors JGR’s engine department would close. Thursday Gibbs and White said their companies “marriage” would provide job security for both operations. White also believes taking the best from each program will make everyone “stronger, better” in the long term.

“Historically, there are things that Mark (Cronquist) and his group have really excelled at

J.D. Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

and there are are also things that TRD has excelled at,” White said. “We are a more engineering driven company at TRD where Mark is a more traditional NASCAR team builder. He is able to react very, very quickly and move forward quickly with developments. That is something TRD needs to be able to enhance that capability and learn how to do that better. A lot of our engineering driven processes are things that a smaller organization like the Gibbs shop have suffered from relative to durability in the past. That’s something where I think we can add to the program.”

Gibbs said most of those in Cronquist’s engine department would remain JGR employees, but a few would go under the TRD banner. However, they would continue to work out of the JGR complex. Gibbs said he wouldn’t rule out using a TRD engine in a JGR car this season, but they were primarily looking ahead to 2012.

“This direction is consistent with the current consolidation of engine building activity throughout the NASCAR garage,” White said. “You look at today’s primary engine builders – Roush Yates, Hendrick and Earnhardt-Childress – they are all examples of engine build operations that have no less than six Cup teams as well as Nationwide and Truck operations. Building and developing engines for three teams or less is extremely expensive and inefficient. We’re hoping to recognize the tremendous economy of scale by spreading these costs across six or more teams in the future.”

Gibbs, who noted there had already been an exchange of information with TRD over the last two or three years, said JGR hoped to add engine clients in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Truck series.

“If you add these programs, there’s not a person that has to worry about a spot at JGR,” Gibbs said. “It’s taking resources and using them wisely. When you partner on the car side you build chassis, you build cars, that gets a little difficult. When you partner on the motor side it’s just easier because you’re at the track, you put it in, you take it out, you bring it back to the shop and you tear it down.”

White and Gibbs envision the partnership allowing TRD to handle long-range projects in research and development while JGR concentrates on immediate issues.

“Over the past two or three years we have done more and more projects together,” Gibbs said. “The engines have become closer together and this is kinda the final piece putting the package together. We’ll still do the parts that we do well and they’ll do what they do well; you kinda come together and go forward. I think a year from now Mark might say, ‘Let’s go this path,’ So it changes the whole shift. It’s not just JGR shifting, it would be JGR and TRD shifting together. It’s just easier to combine resources and go down one path instead of trying to do two paths together.”

White said there would be no difference in the engines used by JGR and MWR in 2012.

“Whatever installation issues there are that prevent a Joe Gibbs Racing engine currently from being installed into a Michael Waltrip Racing car will be corrected by the team,” White said.

This, however, doesn’t mean that other Toyota teams must obtain their engines from either TRD or JGR.

“We are the only manufacturer that has multiple outside engine builders in addition to TRD and JGR,” White said. “Toyota has always made a commitment to NASCAR that we would entertain and help develop independent builders. In addition to TRD and Joe Gibbs Racing, we have the Triad Racing Group that provides engines throughout the Truck and Nationwide garage as well as a few Cup engines. We also have Joey Arrington and Pro Motor that we sell parts to and provide engineering assistance to, to provide engines to those garages.”

In NASCAR’s top three series, all of the engines used by Ford teams are provided by Roush Yates Engines. The Chevrolet teams’ powerplants come from either Hendrick Motorsports or Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 11 2011
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  • Russ says:

    Scrape away all the spin and its all about the money. Allows both Gibbs and Toyota to cut costs a little bit.