NASCAR Mailbag: Where does Toyota’s edge come from? –, Edition: Global

The NASCAR Mailbag is back to answer your questions.

A while back NASCAR limited the number of full-time cars per team to four. Recently we’ve gotten an inside look at the inner workings of the Gibbs, Furniture Row relationship with Gibbs suspending the No. 78 crew members. It doesn’t look very good, especially when the 18 and 78 are racing for the win each week. Is JGR secretly running six cars? If so, should NASCAR step in and put some restrictions on these technical alliances? 

Hi Kyle, NASCAR teams have gotten away with bending this rule for some time whether it’s this latest alliance between JGR and Furniture Row or the Hendrick Motorsports/Stewart-Haas Racing eight-car juggernaut a few years back. Team Penske has a solid alliance with the Wood Brothers but is well under the four-car limit even as the company brings Ryan Blaney back under the roof. So while there is no “secret” to what JGR and FRR are doing, don’t expect the dynamic to change any time soon. – Lee Spencer

When is NASCAR going to ever investigate why the Toyota’s are consistently stronger than the other makes? I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it don’t take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to see that weekend after weekend, year after year. Thanks for the opportunity to ask. 

Woody, Woody, Woody … there’s no need to investigate Toyota’s dominance. Just follow the money. Toyota outspends Ford and Chevrolet and you get what you pay for. Without spending caps, manufacturers and teams can invest as much funding as they want. At the end of the day, money buys speed. Of course you have to know what areas to invest in but clearly Toyota has figured it out. – Lee Spencer

How do the teams transport crashed cars back to their shops, particularly the ones that have burned? I wouldn’t think they would load these in their transporters. 

Art, I’ve witnessed team members many times ripping and cutting off pieces from damaged cars to get them to fit back into the hauler for transport. On occasion, NASCAR may transport one on its own if it wishes to take a closer look for safety reasons. – Jim Utter

Is it time for Ford and Chevy to look at body revamp? Especially Ford … and regarding the 22 … do you think team needs a shake up? Pit crew? 

Jill, Chevrolet is getting a body revamp next season as it will be running a new model car in the Cup series in 2018. Its planned unveil is on Thursday in Detroit. I think Joey Logano’s issues stem from a lack of speed, which he an his crew chief, Todd Gordon, have mentioned several times. I would not expect any major crew changes on the No. 22. – Jim Utter

Hello, my apologies for my grammar first time writing an email on a phone. Shows my age as I have been a NASCAR fan since 1989! I followed the sport very intensely like a spider watches a fly up until the rules started changing and teams started folding up like chairs at a wedding. NASCAR I feel really wants to purge its old fan base to make way for the “new.” The new fans like road courses much more than ovals. You can see that in the stands over the weekend compared to this week in Michigan. So do you think other than propaganda, is there any way for NASCAR to come up with a happy medium to appease its old fan base or does NASCAR want to drive us all away? 

Kane, first of all, I have to applaud you on the analogies at the beginning of the question. Those gave me a chuckle. Now as for as for what you’re asking, I think NASCAR is truly trying to find a happy medium. They have no intentions of driving out any fan, but I can see how the recent changes or the infamous “modernizing tradition” from the early to mid-2000s can alienate some older/die-hard fans. NASCAR is trying to keep everyone happy, but it’s a difficult task. And there are certainly several areas they can improve on from the schedule to team spending and so on. – Nick DeGroot

3:00 p.m. Eastern start times are ridiculous!  Why does NASCAR favor California viewership over the rest of the country? – From Mark

Mark, I couldn’t agree more. From all practical purposes, TV dictates the start times of races and the move to later afternoon starts is in an effort to capture a larger portion of the West Coast audience. On the reverse side, many fans who are actually in attendance are complaining the late afternoon starts don’t give them enough time to return home in order to return to work or school on Monday. – Jim Utter

Why was the race called a “355” last weekend? The race was 90 laps at 250.5 miles? – From Mitch

Mitch, The race distance was measured in kilometers, which was 355. Phoenix also measures its race distances in kilometers, which is why its races are called ‘500s’ but generally run about 300 miles in distance. – Jim Utter

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