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Debate

Is Toyota's favoritism towards Joe Gibbs Racing ruining the competitive spirit of NASCAR?

Jimmie Johnson‘s much-anticipated move to Legacy Motor Club with their latest switch to Toyota hasn’t exactly set the racing world on fire. Instead of roaring into the victory lane, the team seems to be stuck in frustrating neutral gear. And JJ’s chief, Todd Gordon, recently pulled back the curtain and exposed what wasn’t exactly sunshine and checkered flags for them behind the scenes.

According to Gordon, while having Toyota as their pit crew benefactor is all well and good, it’s also like giving a kid a toolbox full of shiny gadgets without showing them how to use them. The real trick, he says, is having the right crew in the garage—guys who can speak Toyota’s engineering lingo and turn those fancy tools into trophies.

“My understanding is that Joe Gibbs is much like some other big teams, Joe Gibbs Racing I think has their own tools” Todd Gordon mentioned to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “…I feel like all of their kind of engineering tools are their own. Legacy is not on their program, it is on the Toyota program! So that means that they don’t have everything that Joe Gibbs Racing has.”

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Poll of the day

Do you think Toyota's favoritism is hurting other NASCAR teams?

Absolutely

Not at all

Maybe a little

I'm not sure

But as the NASCAR world knows, building that dream team takes time, and right now the Legacy Motor Club and Jimmie Johnson are still assembling the furniture while the powerhouse like Joe Gibbs Racing has already hosted multiple victory parties. But talking of 23XI, which is as new as LMC, the scenario is different. Although their co-owner, Denny Hamlin, is with one of the NASCAR giants, do you think it could be the reason for their success? Or is it Michael Jordan and big funds?

What do LMC and Jimmie Johnson need to get out of the slump?

The results on the track paint a clear picture, but it’s not an ideal one for the team as Legacy’s drivers haven’t exactly been lighting the leaderboard on fire themselves. While John Hunter Nemechek has managed to snag a few top-10 finishes, the rest of the crew seems to still be searching for that magic lane to get them to the front. And Jimmie Johnson himself hasn’t been able to crack the top 30, leaving fans wondering if his return to racing was a pit stop or a complete tire change.

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USA Today via Reuters

Further drawing in comparison with Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI, Todd Gordon mentioned what’s lacking for LMC, “You need departments that you didn’t use to have and you need to build cohesions in those departments, people that can understand all the other stuff. Building those departments takes time and you won’t reap the rewards of having a factory support program until you have those departments, not just your crew chiefs and your race engineers but it’s having all the departments that kinda helped feed you the bets.

Todd Gordon’s comments are as simple as it gets, like a pit crew changing a tire—they expose the raw undercarriage of the situation. It seems that Toyota’s love isn’t exactly shared equally among the two teams. So while Joe Gibbs Racing is feasting on a five-course victory meal, Legacy Motor Club is stuck with the pre-race bologna sandwiches. Yikes!

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Gordon’s honesty shines a spotlight on the struggles of the underdog in NASCAR, and this is turning out to be a David vs. Goliath situation, except Goliath (Joe Gibbs Racing) has a whole army of engineers and a secret stash of performance-enhancing lug wrenches, and David… well, he has the will to fight.

With the story out in the open, the question arises now whether Legacy can successfully overcome these odds and eventually challenge the big boys. Only time, and maybe a few well-placed sponsorship deals moving forward, will tell.