After starting in three of the top four starting positions, it was no surprise that Joe Gibbs Racing was strong throughout Sunday's race at Dover. After all, JGR has the most wins and has led significantly more laps than any other team in the Sprint Cup Series.
But that performance has come with a tradeoff that has become unsurprising as well. Yes, you guessed it, engine woes.
Sunday, the engine gremlins felled Matt Kenseth's car. Kenseth was leading when smoke started to trail from his exhaust. Soon after, his day was over.
"Man it's disappointing. I feel like JGR is three of the strongest teams in the garage -- it seems like we have the best cars out there, equal to the best cars," Kenseth said. "But you have to finish these things, obviously. There's been some issues in that department. I've got a lot of faith in those guys, they'll get it figured out."
Kenseth also suffered an engine failure while leading during the Daytona 500 and teammate Kyle Busch's engine expired 257 laps into last week's Coca-Cola 600. In the 500, Busch inherited the lead after Kenseth retired and his engine promptly went sour.
After a spate of engine reliability issues in 2011, Toyota Racing Development and JGR combined engine efforts in August of that season. Since then, the combined shop has supplied engines to not only JGR but Michael Waltrip Racing.
MWR's Martin Truex Jr. was near the front of the field too on Sunday, but just over 100 laps after Kenseth's engine failure, Truex too fell victim to the Toyota engine gremlins.
"Sitting there running second, third, fourth all day long and felt like we were just a little bit away from having something for the win. Just a little too tight on the short run but really fast on the long run," Truex said. "And I just wish we could have had one more crack on it on pit road and raced them to the end. It's just a shame. Got to thank TRD, they've been doing a good job with their engine program and making big power, just a shame we've got to blow them up."
Kenseth is tied for fourth in the standings, 74 points behind Jimmie Johnson while Truex is tied for 14th, 130 points back.
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