LAS VEGAS, NV — Its been a rough weekend thus far for the Toyota camp. On Friday, five of their six cars failed pre practice inspection following modifications to the front end were found. That resulted in a loss of 15 minutes of practice time on Friday afternoon at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Then, on Saturday, three more Toyota’s were found to not to be in compliance on the noses yet again which will cost them their starting spots as well as 10 driver and owner points too.
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell were hit with L1 penalties for “surface conformance” problems on all three of their Toyota’s. This was completely separate from Friday’s issues which means the Toyota camp is really trying something shady with the front of their cars.
Busch, was initially slated to start on the pole for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/PRN) after qualifying was rained out. Hamlin, was supposed to start fourth himself.
Now, all three will have to come from the back, which Busch says is worrisome. Not only are their cars not up to speed this weekend, passing he says even for the quicker cars is going to be tough.
“It is kind of concerning,” said Busch. “We rolled out there first in final practice, and I was wide open for 15..16 straight laps. Kevin Harvick started a half straightaway behind me — and he ran me down. He ran the fastest lap average in those laps he was running me down. My laps were only 15th on average, and he was first. But, he couldn’t pass me. He couldn’t do anything to pass.”
Busch, says that he doesn’t know what that says for the race or even what to expect for Sunday overall.
“We were definitely not as fast as we wanted to be and the car was not driving near what it needed to when we got back in traffic. It was a real handful. We’re going to have our work cut out for us too.”
The trio of Toyota drivers will be joined back by Garrett Smithley. His car failed pre quals inspection three times as he had his car chief ejected too as well as losing 30 minutes of practice time next weekend.
Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet failed pre qualifying inspection twice and had his car chief ejected. He will keep his qualifying spot.