He’s got the right name(s) for NASCAR and appears
to have the goods: at 19 years old, Darrell Wallace
Jr. became the youngest Truck Series pole winner
at Dover in May. Coaching from his KBM boss and
teammate Kyle Busch won’t have hurt, either.
Toyota’s Matt Kenseth (left) and Martin
Truex Jr. both started fast at Dover,
but their engines weren’t up to the task.
JGR’s Kyle Busch is
having a banner
season across all
touring series, but
his Cup engines
clearly irritated him.
to me each and every
time I break? ‘There’s
no fix for it,’” Busch
fumed after his
related failure of the
year at Charlotte.
“Sort of the luck of
the draw. The
bummer is that I
keep picking the
BOOM AND BUST
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Lesley Ann Miller/LAT
Mechanical breakdowns in most major
race series have been reduced to the
point that they are rarely a key factor in
championship battles, but this year’s
NASCAR Sprint Cup might be different. A
spate of engine-related issues for Toyota
teams has put a hitch in the get-along of
Joe Gibbs Racing, in particular.
After proving the class of the field in
the early stages of June’s Dover round,
Matt Kenseth was sidelined by a failed
valve train. It followed his blow-up while
leading the Daytona 500 and was the
17th Toyota engine failure in the first
13 races of the year (another four failed
in practice sessions).
“I really feel like JGR has three of the
strongest race teams and the best cars
in the garage, but you have to finish
races to try and win championships,”
rued Kenseth. “Hopefully, we’ll have it all
figured out before September.”
But then, you’ve got to be in the
Chase to win it, and Kenseth made plain
it’s not his driving that needs to change
for that to be a certainty.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,”
Kenseth said. “I can’t do anything from a
preparation standpoint, from a driving
standpoint. I mean, I can’t be any easier
on it than I’ve been, so something is
wrong. It’s not driver-induced, it’s not
too many miles in practice – it’s nothing
like that. Something’s wrong with a
part and it broke.”
Toyota Racing Development will have
to find the answers under different
leadership. Longtime TRD chief Lee
White announced in June that he was
stepping down as president and general
manager of the manufacturer’s U.S.
racing arm, citing health issues.
JASON LEFFLER, 1975-2013
Jason Leffler, a star of sprint car racing
who also raced in NASCAR, died at the age
of 37 when his sprint car crashed during a
race at Bridgeport Speedway, New Jersey.
Leffler started out in USAC midgets,
winning three straight titles from 1997-’ 99,
as well as the Silver Crown championship
in ’ 98. He went on to compete in NASCAR’s
three top tiers, finding greatest success in
the Nationwide Series, where he claimed
two wins and 107 top- 10 finishes. Leffler
never gave up on his open-wheel roots,
A versatile racer
Born Sept. 16, 1975
(Long Beach, Calif.)
Died June 12, 2013
Ed Carpenter, IndyCar
owner-driver on Leffler
“I raced against Jason
in USAC and he was an
excellent driver and a
champion back then.
He was always a good
guy and always a
however, and raced in the 2000 Indy 500
in a Roger Penske-backed entry.
“Jason was a great racer and an even
better friend,” said three-time NASCAR
champion Tony Stewart. “He loved racing,
especially open-wheel racing, and that’s a
passion we shared. To not have him around
to talk about whatever race one of us had
just run, or were going to run, will be hard.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his
family, especially his son, Charlie, who
Jason loved more than anything.”