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Toyota’s Uncanny Tendencies to Lose Potential Champions Is Not as Detrimental as Ford’s Scarcity

Published 11/20/2023, 12:31 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

When 2023 ARCA Menards champion Jesse Love confirmed his move to the Xfinity Series next year, the Driver Development Program of Toyota came under scrutiny once again. The #20 Toyota driver will join the ranks of William Byron and Kyle Buch, among others, who left the Japanese manufacturers for Chevrolet-backed teams.

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While the prospect of too many drivers compels promising racers to leave Toyota, its competitor Ford stands on the other end of the spectrum with a paucity of winning drivers in recent years. Should both manufacturing giants evaluate their programs prior to the 2024 season?

While Ford struggles to retain drivers, Toyota does not have enough room for them


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In an interview with Kraig Doremus a few years ago, Toyota Racing’s Development’s Jack Irvin laid down the framework through which they produce multiple successful racers every year. “We’ve got to find the best kids at a young age and be able to bring them along and develop them within our program.”

Whether it was Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron or their former association with Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota Racing has largely accomplished what it sought to achieve with young racers.


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However, for every Jade Avedisian, who signed a multi-year deal after winning the Xtreme Midget Championship this year, there are far more drivers like Jesse Love who searched for greener pastures when the opportunity presented itself. Does that indicate a failure on the part of TRD? Or simply a shortage of opportunities within the Toyota camp itself? The availability of limited Toyota-backed seats at the Cup level would strongly indicate the latter. 


This season, only Joe Gibbs Racing and JGR driver Denny Hamlin’s 23XI Racing had the Japanese company as their manufacturers. With the sheer volume of drivers trained in the program, it would be natural for some of them to opt for Chevrolet or Ford-backed teams, simply to increase their likelihood of a future Cup ride. Unfortunately for Ford, despite sweeping the title in all three NASCAR series, the manufacturing company is facing a dearth of talented young drivers ready to replace Cup veterans in the coming years. 

That was evident when Tony Stewart was left scrambling to fill the seats left vacant by Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola at the end of this season. When the time came, Stewart chose Chevrolet driver Josh Berry instead of Ford drivers from his own Xfinity team- Cole Custer and Riley Herbst. At 33, last year’s Cup champion Joey Logano might only race for a few more years and Brad Keselowski might focus more on running RFK Racing instead of driving as a competitor. 

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At this juncture, Ford might just prefer to be in Toyota’s shoes for having too many options instead of too few. Moreover, with the recent development, Toyota seems to be addressing these concerns and expanding its operations in the Cup Series.

Toyota will field eight Cup drivers in the upcoming season after a tie-up with Legacy Motor Club

As per Front Office Sports, TRD President David Wilson said, “We try to build a relationship with these kids…Beyond that, it’s about the hardware and being able to partner with teams that have the capabilities and commitment to put these kids in the best equipment.” This year, Toyota found another team to partner with at the top level prior to the 2024 season.

With the addition of Legacy Motor Club, Toyota will re-induct former TRD drivers – Eric Jones and John Hunter Nemechek while simultaneously expanding their presence in the Cup Series next year. Along with existing JGR and 23XI drivers, it does not seem like the loss of talent will have a significant impact on the manufacturer next season. 


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Will Ford be able to ensure the same in the upcoming season?

Amid Ford’s Massive F1 Entry in 2026, Director Dismisses Fans’ NASCAR Commitments Concerns

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Written by:

Parika Singh


One take at a time

I began my motorsport journey in the European lanes of Formula 1, but after years of predictability, I ventured into the road courses and oval tracks of the United States. Upon discovering NASCAR, I was fascinated by the anecdotal gems waiting to be uncovered. Since I am a storyteller by heart, NASCAR gave me the perfect canvas with its cherished camaraderie and ancient rivalries.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh