Perhaps the most shocking stat from this past weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway was that the highest finishing Toyota driver was Kurt Busch in eighth. In fact, Toyota drivers led nary a lap all race long and the highest-finishing Toyota from the powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing organization was Martin Truex Jr. all the way back in 13th. That’s certainly cause for concern for the Toyota camp heading into Sunday’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a mile-and-a-half track that although different from 2-mile ACS has some similarities. Perhaps Toyota needs to go back to the drawing board on the Next Generation car, which prior to Fontana had never competed on an intermediate track.
“I think we were the highest finishing Toyota at Auto Club Speedway, so we know we have some work to do,” said veteran Busch, who was making just his second start for 23XI Racing. “The restart fell our way on that last one, but that was the best our car had handled since the first stage, so lots to learn. Lots to go through.”
Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champion, was nevertheless happy with the performance of his new team, which just made its official Cup Series debut in the previous weekend’s Daytona 500. “Wow,” Busch said. “What a top-10. That is a statement piece for us at 23XI, to get our top-10 like this with everything we have been through. I’ve got to thank all of my guys for staying focused. They showed me the way, and I showed them what we’ve got to do this year to keep chiseling away.”