Toyota boss says 8 Cup wins this year is ‘unacceptable’


The president of Toyota Racing Development calls it “unacceptable” and “ridiculous” that Toyota has won only eight of 31 Cup races this season.

David Wilson, speaking to reporters Wednesday on a Zoom call, expressed his disappointment in Toyota’s performance even as the manufacturer has three cars in the playoffs heading into Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Toyota is on pace for its fewest victories in a Cup season since 2014. Still, its eight wins are more than Chevrolet’s total this season (six). Ford has won a series-high 17 Cup races. This will be the second time in three seasons Ford has won more Cup races than Toyota. 

Last season, Toyota won 19 of 36 races. The manufacturer won at least 13 races a year the previous five seasons.

David Wilson. (Photo: Lesley Ann Miller
LAT Photo USA)

“We’re sitting on eight wins in 31 starts this year and that’s unacceptable,” Wilson told reporters. “That’s ridiculous. We’re better than that. We should be sitting on somewhere between 13 or 15 right now.”

Wilson used similar language in June with reporters when Toyota had won four of 12 Cup races to that point. He used the words  “embarrassing,” “dog crap” and “unacceptable” in discussing a recent race and performance to that point.

Toyota is led by Joe Gibbs Racing with Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Erik Jones. Also with Toyota is Leavine Family Racing with Christopher Bell, who will replace Jones at JGR next year. Toyota also works with Gaunt Brothers Racing, which has Daniel Suarez, who is leaving for a new team next season owned by former driver Justin Marks.

Hamlin, who has seven wins this season, is headed for the next round after his Talladega victory last weekend. Truex is 32 points above the cutoff. Busch, the defending series champ, remains winless this season and is 21 points outside a transfer spot.

Wilson said that “as a manufacturer, we haven’t done as good a job as the Ford guys in particular. That’s on me.”

Wilson cited pit road mistakes as a reason that has impacted performance at times.

“We’ve lost too many because of a loose wheel on the last pit stop heading into the third stage because of missteps or mistakes on our part,” Wilson said. “This isn’t directed at any single team or driver. Those are the things that are unacceptable because we hold ourselves to the highest standard and it’s every part of the organization, every part of the performance of that car. That’s the part that is unacceptable.”

He also pointed the finger at Toyota and its engineers for the struggles at Martinsville in June. Although Truex won that race, Busch, Jones and Hamlin all finished 19th or worse.

“I’ll give you one example,” Wilson said of some of Toyota’s struggles. “Simulation. That’s a piece Toyota TRD takes a leadership role on and our sim needs to be better. We’re working on that very aggressively.

“We have engineers who do nothing but work on tires. The first Martinsville race … we were not ready for that tire that NASCAR brought to that race. Shame on us. We called ourselves out on it. I’d like to say that will never happen again.”

Martinsville will host the last race in the Round of 8 and be the final chance to drivers to advance to the championship race in Phoenix. Wilson said the manufacturer is focused on winning the final five races of the season. 

“The reason I look at the next five races, going there with an expectation to perform, is because our cars are good,” he said. “To put it into perspective, we could just suck and just not be capable of running up front. The fact is we do have cars capable of running up front and by and large we’ve demonstrated that week in and week out. Again, it comes back to all the other things that are required in order to seal the deal and take the checkered flag at the end. I know the spirit with which we go to the racetrack each and every week.

“Our target was to get three cars into the final eight. It was four out of 16 and we only got three. We fell short with Erik. But then we expect to transfer all three to the final eight. We’ll be obviously crushed if Kyle doesn’t make it. … Phoenix our target was to get two Toyotas to the championship round.”

Toyota has had at least two cars in the championship race each of the past three seasons. Toyota has won three of the past five driver championships with Busch in 2019, Truex in 2017 and Busch in 2015.

Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Saturday Sonoma Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The Xfinity Series will compete for the first time at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This is one of eight road course events on the Xfinity schedule this season.

Seven Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race, including AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, who won last year’s Cup race at this track Allmendinger has won 11 of 25 career road course starts in the Xfinity Series.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Golden State Warrior Patrick Baldwin Jr. will give the command to start engines at 8:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. … Driver introductions begin at 7:35 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Earl Smith, team pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, at 8 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by 9-year-old Isis Mikayle Castillo at 8:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 79 laps (156.95 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 20. Stage 2 ends at Lap 45.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 8 p.m. ... Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXN NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: This is the first time the Xfinity Series has raced at Sonoma.


NASCAR Friday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The Xfinity Series makes its first appearance Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Xfinity teams, coming off last weekend’s race at Portland International Raceway, get 50 minutes of practice Friday because Sonoma is a new venue for the series.

Seven Cup drivers, including Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, are among those entered in the Xfinity race. Suarez won the Cup race at Sonoma last year.

Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday at the 1.99-mile road course.

Sonoma Raceway


Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)