Toyota has elected not to release a statement regarding the recent NASCAR sanctions against Michael Waltrip Racing stemming from what NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton characterized as an attempt “to manipulate the outcome of the race” at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night.
On Thursday, Ed Laukes, vice president for marketing communications and motorsports with Toyota Auto Sales, said the manufacturer’s “focus was on the three drivers remaining in the Chase” — Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer.
“As far as the Waltrip organization goes, absolutely nothing’s changed with us,” Laukes said. "We’re not going to really talk about it — we’re just going to focus on exactly where we’re at with our three guys.”
Bowyer spun with seven laps remaining in the race, which ignited a caution and cost Ryan Newman the lead. However, it was the radio communication between MWR VP Ty Norris and driver Brian Vickers that NASCAR took objection to and fined all three drivers 50 points and the organization $300,000. Consequently, Martin Truex Jr.’s fine led to the No. 56 Toyota team falling outside of the Chase Zone and enabled Newman to regain a position.
“I think, at the end of the day, we have to look at how we support our teams, and what happened in this situation is really between Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR,” Laukes said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the sport.
“There’s a long history, long before Toyota got into the sport, of things that happened, and it’s really between Michael Waltrip racing and NASCAR. At this point we just have to stay focused on everything that’s going on with the three guys and try to get a first Sprint Cup championship for Toyota.”