Toyota hits playoffs, Bush brothers still stuck

To Bob Pokulas
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, FL — When addressing members of the media in the rain on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, Toyota Racing Development’s David Wilson noted that the drivers are the only manufacturer to make the final round of the playoffs each year. Did. It has been one year since the current system was introduced in 2014.

If it happens again in 2022, it will be just a few entries as the frustrating year has gotten even more frustrating over the past week.

23XI racing driver Kurt Busch, who missed the final six races of the regular season with a concussion, withdrew from the playoffs on Thursday after doctors told him he would not be able to compete in the opening event. With the possibility of missing out, Bush chose not to take the spot he earned with his win in Kansas earlier this year.

The only positive to come out of Busch’s exit is that Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. has a better chance of making the playoffs. Daytona Sunday.

But when Austin Dillon won, Truex found himself looking outside. An eighth-place finish for Truex was not enough, despite Ryan Blaney finishing six laps behind. Blaney finished 15th at Daytona and on a day when many drivers were involved in accidents, the Truex trailed him by three spots (probably more than four spots for him, as Blaney won most of the tiebreaks). I took the lead.

“We raced smart,” said Truex. “Just the wrong place, the wrong time, it’s — 30 cars here could say that. It’s just frustrating.

“We had a good run, but we were wrecked. At the end of the day we had some decent finishes, but it didn’t really matter. We knew where we had to finish…and we had enough speed. Stay in that position. ”

Breaking News: 2022 Championship Picks

Breaking News: 2022 Championship Picks

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The Truex are fourth in the regular season standings and have reached the championship rounds of the playoffs in five of the last seven years. Toyota’s only playoff hopefuls were Denny Hamlin (his two wins this year), Christopher Bell (once) and Kyle Busch (once), as he did not capitalize on his playoff opportunities.

Not only that, but the contract situation with Kyle Busch is looming over Toyota. JGR has not found a replacement for his M&M’s in sponsorship, and Busch appears to be stepping down in favor of his Joe Gibbs grandson, his Ty Gibbs.

Both Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs denied the final decision was made a week ago and declined to provide any significant updates at Daytona. Owner Matt Cowrig has suggested that he has had discussions with Bush, but gave no hint as to how close he is to a deal.

“It would be silly not to do everything to keep him in the family,” Wilson said of 60-race winner and two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch. That is….this is not just an offensive consideration.

“I don’t want to compete with an enraged Kyle Busch. Wherever he lands, he’s going to do some damage.”

If his brother can’t go back, will he go to 23XI Racing? Who knows how deep those conversations went.

“Kurt Busch [No.] 45 23XI Camry TRD Next year, that’s our working assumption,” said Wilson.

They know Kurt wants to come back. But no one knows when that will be.

Overthrow Kurt Busch’s decision

Bob Poklas analyzes Kurt Busch’s decision and what it means for the rest of the NASCAR playoff field.

23XI co-owner Hamlin said, “I don’t think we’re holding out hope that Kurt will come back one day.” I don’t think it was that high.

“Then why not give up the place? Honestly, it was Kurt’s decision more than anyone else’s.”

Kyle didn’t want to discuss his decision with his brother, but said Kurt’s decision to exclude himself from the playoffs was a tough one.

“He’s very aware of the decisions he’s making and their implications,” Kyle Busch said of his brother. “So I give him… full credit for making them.” give.”

Kyle Busch was the only Toyota driver to win the title in 2015 and 2019, and it wasn’t a championship-type season this year. It was a dirt track in Bristol. He was 8th in the standings before a playoff reseeding dropped him to 11th.

No Toyota driver is in the top five of the reseeded standings, with Hamlin in sixth and Bell in tenth, both less than three points behind Kyle Busch.

But Wilson thinks he has a shot at winning the playoffs. The only race he’s really worried about is his course at Charlotte “Roval” Road, as JGR has struggled at those tracks this year. Other struggles were carried out on pit road.

“We are worried about Charlotte Roval,” said Wilson. “My confidence level is not high so I hope I’m not in a position to do something great there.

“But apart from that, I’m not worried.”

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thoughts were spoken

The mood in the garage was that if the race was deemed official past the halfway point, NASCAR probably wouldn’t call the Cup races on Sunday without waiting deep into the rain delay.

It was a long weekend with the Xfinity race postponed by rain and the Cup race postponed.

However, NASCAR was 3 hours and 19 minutes behind on Sunday going into the final 20 laps, going green with 16 laps to go and finishing about 15 minutes later.

NASCAR made the right move given the circumstances in which a warning was issued as a sudden downpour on the track destroyed the field.

By continuing, NASCAR avoided focusing on whether they were slow to issue the caution and whether they made the right decision in deciding on Austin Dillon as the leader rather than Kevin Harvick. After the warning came out, Harvick hit several cars, but he felt he was maintaining a reasonable speed.

Harvick’s car was too damaged to continue after the red flag stop and it was relatively debatable that he should have been the leader.

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today’s stats

Richard Childress Racing’s three wins is the most in a single season since 2013 when it won four.

they said that

“It was just great to be behind the wheel.” — Austin Dillon

Bob Poklas has covered motorsports for decades, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He has worked for ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal before joining FOX Sports in 2019. Follow him on Twitter and his Instagram @.Bob Poclas.

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