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If these aren’t sour grapes, I don’t know what sour grapes are.

Watching yet another Toyota win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona was the final straw. Toyota has taken NASCAR’s top series by force with no hope for the other manufacturers.

Clint Bowyer said it best in the Nationwide race, yet another series dominated this year by the foreign manufacturer. Bowyer said that the Toyotas just have too much power.

Toyota drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, and Joey Logano have combined to win seven Sprint Cup races and 17 Nationwide Series races. Big bad Toyota is taking it to the Big Three, and that’s all their boosters can come up with in defense? Toyota has too much power?

Apparently, NASCAR agreed, and recently forced Toyota to modify its Nationwide Series engines, reducing their output by 15 horsepower.

I could be aiming for something totally outdated, but it seems to me that if your competition is beating you senseless, maybe you ought to raise your level of performance to meet your competition. Instead, NASCAR agrees with the idea of lowering the bar, rather than raising it. The Big Three can’t keep up with Toyota, so let’s hold Toyota back so the Big Three can catch up.

It should be so cut and dried. But alas, JGR’s Nationwide crews stuck magnets under the gas pedals in Tony Stewart’s and Joey Logano’s cars, with the intention of fooling NASCAR dynos — presumably in response to the decree to tune the cars down.

Toyota has gone through enough controversy and bad publicity in its entry into NASCAR. JGR drivers, especially Kyle Busch have helped to turn the controversy back, but again, it pops up. Considering how much scrutiny Toyota has been subjected to, you’d think that the guilty JGR crews would avoid dabbling in this sort of thing.

Contoversy aside, it’s fascinating how Toyota’s participation in NASCAR has polarized the racing community. Without condoning this recent incident, I’m not going to believe for a second that every crew, no matter Dodge, Ford, GM, or Toyota, isn’t always looking for a leg up. Tuning race cars is one thing, but given the stakes, I have to think everything strategy-wise is on the table, legal or not.

I do think the reaction to Toyota in NASCAR is representative of a very ugly part of American society. The reaction is often irrationally xenophobic, which is ironic given how “American” these vehicles really are. The consumer version of the Camry is built in Fresno, California, by American labor.

It makes me wonder — why is Toyota under the scrutiny that it is? And in scrutinizing Toyota, why do so many of us rely upon terribly xenophobic rationale?


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