Toyota enters playoffs with Busch brothers still in limbo

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Athletics NASCAR Writer

DAYTONA Seashore, Fla. — As he resolved associates of the media through a rain delay Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, Toyota Racing Development’s David Wilson manufactured absolutely sure to point out that Toyota is the only manufacturer to have a driver make the ultimate spherical of the playoffs just about every 12 months given that the latest process was instituted in 2014.

If it takes place once again in 2022, it will be with just a number of entries, as a irritating 12 months got even extra irritating in the past week.

23XI Racing driver Kurt Busch, who skipped the closing 6 frequent-season races owing to a concussion, withdrew from the playoffs Thursday after medical doctors informed him he couldn’t race in the postseason-opening function. With the chance of lacking the full to start with three-race round, Busch opted not to take the place that he experienced attained with a Kansas acquire earlier this year.

The only feasible favourable, on the competitiveness facet, that could come from Busch’s withdrawal was that it gave Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. a superior prospect to make the playoffs, as it resulted in two places staying up for grabs in the time finale Sunday at Daytona.

Truex, nevertheless, found himself on the outside the house wanting in as Austin Dillon gained. Truex’s eighth-put end was not excellent sufficient, even though Ryan Blaney concluded six laps down. Blaney positioned 15th at Daytona, fantastic plenty of to edge Truex by a few places (more than probable 4 spots considering that Blaney received most tiebreakers) on a working day when they had been between the several drivers included in mishaps.

“We ran a intelligent race,” Truex reported. “Just improper location, mistaken time, which — 30 autos out listed here could say that. It is really just disheartening.

“We operate nicely and get wrecked. At the end of the day, we had a rather decent finish, but it isn’t going to definitely make any difference. I realized exactly where I had to finish … and I just failed to have more than enough velocity to remain in that posture.”

Rapid Thoughts: 2022 championship select

Fast Thoughts: 2022 championship pick

Bob Pockrass makes his predictions for the 2022 Cup Sequence playoffs and names his championship beloved.

Truex was fourth in the frequent-season standings and has designed the championship spherical of the playoffs in 5 of the previous seven years. His not capitalizing on the playoff opportunity leaves Denny Hamlin (two wins this calendar year), Christopher Bell (a person) and Kyle Busch (just one) as Toyota’s only playoff hopes.

If that were not irritating ample, the Kyle Busch deal scenario looms around Toyota. JGR has not uncovered a substitution for sponsor M&M’s, and it seems Busch is on his way out in favor of Joe Gibbs’ grandson, Ty Gibbs.

Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs each denied a week ago that any choice has been made, and each declined to give any meaningful updates whilst at Daytona. The two Richard Childress and Matt Kaulig — proprietors of Chevrolet teams — have indicated they have been amid people who have experienced talks with Busch but would not give any hints of how near they are to a deal.

“We would be silly not to place every little thing in engage in to continue to keep him in the family,” Wilson reported of Kyle Busch, a 60-race winner and two-time Cup winner. “Which is what we carry on to do. … This is not just an offensive thought.

“I you should not want to race against a pissed-off Kyle Busch. Anywhere he lands, he is likely to do some damage.”

Could he end up at 23XI Racing if his brother can not return? No one would say how deep all those conversations have absent.

“Kurt Busch is less than contract to drive the [No.] 45 23XI Camry TRD up coming yr, and that is our working assumption,” Wilson explained. “We know that is what Kurt needs to do.”

They know Kurt wants to appear again. But no just one appreciates when.

Breaking down Kurt Busch’s conclusion

Breaking down Kurt Busch's decision

Bob Pockrass breaks down Kurt Busch’s decision and what it signifies for the rest of the NASCAR playoff area.

“We are not keeping out hope that Kurt can occur back at some time,” mentioned Hamlin, a co-operator of 23XI. “I consider that he considered if he did arrive back again later on, the prospects of him profitable a championship would not be extremely superior.

“So why not give up that place? That actually was a Kurt conclusion far more than any individual else.”

Kyle didn’t want to discuss for his brother and his conclusions but noted that Kurt’s option to take away himself from the playoffs was challenging.

“He’s very very well conscious of the conclusions and the repercussions of people that he is creating,” Kyle Busch explained of his brother. “So I give him … comprehensive credit for producing those.”

Kyle Busch is the only Toyota driver with a earlier Cup championship — he gained titles in 2015 and 2019, but this calendar year hasn’t specifically been a championship-form period. His only get came on the Bristol dirt observe, when the leaders wrecked in front of him. He was eighth in the standings ahead of playoff reseeding dropped him to 11th.

There are no Toyota drivers in the prime five of the reseeded standings, with Hamlin sixth and Bell 10th. But Wilson thinks they have a fantastic shot of producing a run throughout the playoffs. The only race that certainly concerns him is the Charlotte “Roval” street training course due to the fact JGR has struggled at all those tracks this 12 months. The other struggles have appear in execution on pit street.

“We’re concerned about Charlotte Roval,” Wilson claimed. “We hope we are not in a position wherever we have to do anything stunning there because my self esteem amount is not significant.

“But brief of that, I am not apprehensive.” 

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Imagining out loud

The vibe in the garage was that NASCAR almost certainly wouldn’t wait around far too deep into a rain hold off to call the Cup race Sunday if the race experienced gone earlier the midway place and could be deemed official. It previously experienced been a very long weekend, with a rain-delayed Xfinity race and a postponed Cup race.

But NASCAR expended 3 several hours, 19 minutes in a hold off Sunday to get in the ultimate 20 laps, going eco-friendly with 16 laps to go and ending about 15 minutes later.

NASCAR designed the right transfer, considering the situations of the warning coming out as the area was wrecking thanks to a sudden downpour at the keep track of.

By continuing, NASCAR averted aim on no matter whether it was sluggish to throw the caution and whether or not it built the correct get in touch with in identifying Austin Dillon, not Kevin Harvick, the chief. Harvick experienced hit some vehicles immediately after the caution arrived out but thought he had managed a acceptable speed.

Harvick’s car or truck was as well weakened to keep on just after the purple flag, earning the stage that he should really have been the chief comparatively moot.

Social highlight

Stat of the working day

Three Richard Childress Racing wins are the most in a season for the firm considering that it had 4 in 2013.

They said it

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

Bob Pockrass has spent decades masking motorsports, which include the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sporting activities in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting Information, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach front) News-Journal. Observe him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass


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