NASCAR – GMS teammates lobby against Hattori Racing using Toyota engine in NASCAR Trucks championship race

NASCAR – GMS teammates lobby against Hattori Racing using Toyota engine in NASCAR Trucks championship race


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Perhaps for the final time this season, if not moving forward, Hattori Racing Enterprises won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race with a Toyota-Gibbs engine.

And for the 22nd time this season, the competition politicked against it.

Brett Moffitt won for the fifth time this season on Friday night at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, each victory this season coming with the OEM engine built by Mark Cronquist. However, the engine was de-tuned by NASCAR twice after the playoffs began, first through the gear ratio after Mosport and then the spacer after Las Vegas.

The timing of the regulations drew the ire of both Hattori and Toyota, the manufacturer purchasing a NT1 spec engine for the team, which it first utilized last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway to a third-place finish.



Toyota NASCAR Truck team forced to adopt spec engine after rules update



But the team reverted to its Gibbs engine on Friday at Phoenix, preferring the launch and torque it provided on a short track compared to the NT1.

But even after the NASCAR engine regulations went into effect, fellow championship finalist and season-long OEM critic Johnny Sauter issued another concern of the motor in advance of the Championship Race next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  

“If it’s going to be a race like tonight where it’s built motors versus spec motors, who in the hell knows, it’s a joke,” Sauter said. “I’ve got nothing good to say. It’s embarrassing.

“The guys with built motors just drive away from you here. If they bring that next weekend, who knows how big of an advantage that could be. Torque and gear is a big advantage there. I like to call it torque multiplication, so we’re just going to go down there and see what happens.”

Hattori Racing crew chief Scott Zippadelli had stated an intent to bring the NT1 spec motor to Homestead, especially after changes he believes crippled using the OEM motor on tracks larger than a mile.

Sauter’s GMS Racing teammate, Justin Haley is also in the Championship Race and agreed with his elder statesman teammate.

“When Ilmor runs sim, we’re pretty close for the first 30 laps,” Haley said. “Then as tires fall off, on places with high tire wear, that motor makes a difference. If they bring it there, it’s game over for us.”



Zipadelli took exception to the comments after the race, believing the shots to have insinuated that their success this year was purely due to the motor and not set-up or driver.

“Well, I would say they (GMS Racing) didn’t have very good trucks today, honestly,” Zipadelli said. “I would love to stir the pot right now because that’s all they do is whine about our engines, but if you look at the race itself, we kill them through the corners.

“Our truck drives better than their truck. The engine has some advantages in some spots. All I’ll say is yes it does rev higher, but it only revs higher when you’re shifting from second, third and fourth. Once you get in high gear, it doesn’t rev any higher.”

The victory was the 199th in the Truck Series for the Gibbs engine and it very well could be last. Winning with it all season, when Hattori was the only team that chose to run it has been a source of pride to Zipadelli.

 “I’m very proud of it,” Zipadelli said. “It’s a great piece, it’s a proven piece. It’s all I can say, we swapped engines last week and went to Texas and qualified better than we’ve qualified all year – qualified fourth and finished third. I think this team is strong enough to perform at the top level with either piece.

“We picked the OEM engine at the beginning of the year based on the rule books and the rule book is changing and we have to adapt to that. Can’t thank Mark Cronquist and TRD enough for all that they’ve done for us and give us great pieces, but we had a really good truck today and the engine is one major component of the whole package.”



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Matt Weaver



Matt Weaver



– Matt Weaver is an associate motorsports editor at Autoweek. Before becoming a journalist, he was a dirt track racer and short track cheeseburger connoisseur.

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