The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season saw, overall, at least somewhat lackluster performances from Toyota teams Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Sure, JGR put all three of its drivers in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup and Hamlin was one of the final four heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the three drivers — Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Matt Kenseth — combined for a whopping (sarcasm) two wins. Kenseth, alone, had seven wins the previous season, his first at Joe Gibbs Racing. Then there was Michael Waltrip Racing, an organization that failed to put a single car/driver in the 2014 Chase.
Two days into the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’m thinking the Toyota camp members all need to get on the same page. That would definitely be a start. To me, it seems like JGR and MWR aren’t on the same page, judging by statements made by Busch and Brian Pattie, crew chief of the No. 15 driven by Clint Bowyer at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Busch has made it clear multiple times that Toyota teams, specifically JGR and MWR, should be working together. He gave his opinion pretty bluntly during the media tour, stating that “Toyota teams are idiots” for not working together.
Later, though, Pattie said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” show that MWR and JGR already work together. He says the two race teams have been working together for years and were unaware that the cooperation needed a public announcement.
So, are Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing working together or are they not? Is Busch just out of the loop? Does Pattie think there’s more cooperation than there really is? Maybe MWR and the rest of JGR, other than Busch, are working together.
Pattie did mention TRD (Toyota Racing Development) a lot during the conversation on The Morning Drive, so maybe he considers all the assistance and TRD as cooperation between the two race teams, since both receive assistance from TRD. Meanwhile, Busch, obviously, doesn’t count the TRD input as the two organizations, JGR and MWR, as working together.
Michael Waltrip Racing Executive Vice President Ty Norris commented during the Media Tour that more needed to be done and that there have been conversations have been taking place regarding an alliance, of sorts, between MWR and JGR.
I kind of have to agree with Busch on this one. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Toyota teams idiots. I’m sure it has to be hard to share information with a competitor, and while they may both be from the Toyota camp, Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing are competitors. But I do think there are benefits to be had, for both teams, from a JGR-MWR alliance. Chevy teams, Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing, seem to be able to make it work.
Whether there’s already and alliance, or there’s not, or whether or not there will be an alliance forthcoming, everyone in the camp, at the very least, needs to get on the same page.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR