|TRD President Lee White|
Toyota Racing Development president Lee White said he is unhappy with comments made by Kyle Busch following Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway, saying he took those comments “a little bit personally.”
At the drop of the checkered flag, Busch unleashed a torrent of expletives over his in-car radio, calling TRD “piece of s#*t mother@$%&ers. Thanks a lot, TRD for @$%&ing up another one,” he said.
White called the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, “an amazing talent behind the wheel” and “extremely passionate about what he does. When he leads a gazillion laps in a race and has it in hand, it breaks his heart when he doesn’t win.
“But frankly, it breaks our hearts too,” he said. “We’re as aware and engaged in this sport as he is.”
White revealed that Busch fell short on fuel mileage Sunday at least in part because of a decision he and crew chief Dave Rogers made prior to the race.
“We have four lean maps that teams can choose from,” explained White. “They range from full power/full spark/all the horsepower you can get, down to Lean One, Lean Two and Lean Three. Depending on the circumstances the crew chiefs and drivers think the race may play out to, they make a choice (on fuel mapping). We don’t decide that, crew chiefs and drivers make that choice.
“Nobody running a Toyota engine in that race ran a lean map at any level,” he revealed. “Not a single one of our crew chief/driver combinations made the choice (to run lean) at Dover. Not one.
|Busch (L) and White in happier times|
“However, if you go back to Richmond, Brian Pattie and Clint Bowyer decided before the race that they were going to run Lean Three, to keep from burning off the rear tires. It became a fuel mileage race, and they won it. Granted, they had to push the car to Victory Lane, but they won that race because of TRD and Toyota’s fuel economy. They did the same thing at Sears Point, too.
“It gets a little lost in all this vitriol and dialogue, but that’s the history,” White said. “It’s proven history, and it’s documented history.
“Do we want (Kyle) to just laugh it off? No,” he said. “We want people to be upset, we want them to ask questions and get into the competition meetings… and ask, `What could we have done differently?
“Can we be better? Absolutely. Are the Dodge guys – Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe – doing a really good job? You’re damned right, they’re doing a great job. They’ve got something going on. Early on at Dover, they weren’t that fast. They were already on that (fuel mileage) strategy, hoping that the race would fall to them. And it did.
“It fell right in their laps, and more power to them.”
White insisted, however, that Busch was not justified in his profanity laced tirade against TRD.
“That doesn’t excuse taking TRD and several hundred thousand people around the globe (to task),” he said. “We’re not just one little tiny deal here. We’re part of a much greater entity called Toyota. We are a global company and we represent every one of those (Toyota) associates, in the dealerships, the factories, in sales, promotion, shipping… you name it, all around the globe. They’re all passionate about what we do. They wear our successes and failures on their sleeves, so when you have a tirade like that; it’s not just hammering 244 TRD associates in the face. It’s hammering an entire culture in the face.
“I’m sorry, but I take that a little bit personally.”
While stressing that TRD and Toyota do not hire or fire drivers, White said the incident is “something we’ll be talking about with Coach Gibbs.”
He also said the outburst could impact the company’s future support of Busch. “Historically, we’ve had a great relationship with Kyle. Not only as a driver and team partner of his (at JGR), but we also support his Truck and Nationwide teams to a fairly significant level. There’s a business relationship there, as well, and someone other than myself will have to get into that as we move forward.
“I’m confident that we’ll sort that all out over a period of time.”
White stopped short of saying Busch has permanently damaged his relationship with Toyota and TRD, saying, “This isn’t the first time it’s happened. People are used to it, and to some degree, they say, `Aw, it’s just Kyle,’ then turn around and walk away.
“Everybody here is competitive,” he added. “We’re in an environment where all the teams, all the drivers, every man, woman and child is as competitive as the day is long. We’re extremely proud and happy to be part of it, and this is one of the burdens we all bear.
“We’re smart people, we’re ethical people, and we’ll work our way through this and do our darndest to make sure we handle this in the best possible way for ourselves, for our brand, for our company globally… and also for Kyle and Samantha Busch, because they’re a part of our family, as well.”