Roush Claims Toyota Team Stole Part
Jack Roush, the top Ford team owner in the NASCAR Sprint Series, claims that a Toyota team stole a swaybar from his team last year.
Stories have been bubbling on the internet since Toyota returned a part following a tear-down of vehicles after the most recent Sprint Cup race. A Toyota official described the part as a spring, but Rousch says it was actually an anti-sway bar.
According to SportingNews.com, the swaybar had been stored below a toolbox adjacent to the area allocated to one of the Toyota teams. Reports of the tear-down have suggested that it was Michael Waltrip’s team, but no one has officially specified which Toyota team is involved.
Roush had this to say: "The ... nondescript Toyota team, went behind my toolbox and took my bar out of my inventory and put it in their inventory and took it home with them. That is a fact. It has not been refuted and it has been discussed with the team involved."
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Roush has indicated that he may take legal action, in addition to whatever action NASCAR takes.
Toyota, for its part, has been vague in its explanations, but has sought to portray the situation as a simple mix-up where parts were confused. That perspective is very different from Roush’s view of the incident, which is clearly one of industrial espionage. The part, however, was returned to Roush by Toyota Racing Development itself, not the affected team.
The situation came to light when Toyota contacted the manufacturer of the sway bar about making a similar part for them. The vendor, in turn, contacted Roush. Roush then discovered the part missing from inventory. Coincidentally, an employee at Roush who’d formerly worked for Toyota reported having seen the part when he was still a Toyota employee.
"I found out about it, I wanted to go supersonic," Roush said. "[I thought,] ’We’re going to get a search warrant, industrial espionage is going on ... They’ve had an opportunity to see what it does ... We’ve been damaged, we’ve been harmed by this theft.’"
Roush was among the most vocal critics of Toyota’s entrance into Sprint Cup competition, claiming that the unlimited funds the manufacturer brings to its racing ventures would put other teams at a disadvantage. Roush also did not take kindly to comments by Toyota race boss Lee White after Carl Edwards was penalized for an improper oil tank cover, comments which implied that Roush’s team had intentionally violated the NASCAR rules.