Kyle Busch says Toyotas are competitive but need work to catch Fords

CONCORD, N.C. -- When Martin Truex Jr. said the Fords have an advantage last week following the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas, he followed it with a grin and a little bit of a laugh as he sat next to Ford driver Joey Logano.

When Kyle Busch said it Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it was clear he wasn't needling anyone. And he didn't say it in a complaining tone.

Considering Kevin Harvick has won five of the first 12 races in a Ford (along with one for Clint Bowyer and another for Logano), it's not a stretch to talk about the Fords being strong this year.

Busch has won three times and Truex once in Toyotas, and Chevrolet has a win with Austin Dillon in the Daytona 500.

"Our Toyotas are close, but it seems the Blue Ovals have got a little bit of an advantage this year," Busch said Friday during a break in practice for the NASCAR All-Star Race. "You kind of see it weekly.

"You look at the rundown of the [scoring] pylon and it's lots of Fords lined up in the top 12 spots, so you know it's pretty obvious based just off of last year and looking at the pylon and kind of seeing a little bit more spread there between Chevys, Fords and Toyotas."

There are seven Fords in the top 10 in the Cup standings. Busch sits atop the standings in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota but then there are five Fords -- Logano, Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Bowyer -- before the Toyotas of Denny Hamlin and Truex and then the Fords of Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola.

At the end of last season, Keselowski had predicted the Fords would be in trouble. But NASCAR changed rules and interpretations on what teams can do with the front splitter, which impacted the Toyota teams. The new body scanning inspection system, which replaced a template system where the body of the car had to meet certain touch points, also has appeared to impact the strength of the Toyotas.

Chevrolet debuted a new Camaro design this year but potential advantages with that body style possibly were impacted by the body scanning inspection system as well.

"All in all, we just got to go to work and figure out what we got to do in order to get better," Kyle Busch said. "I think some of the aero changes that have kind of come down this year have definitely benefited [the Fords] a little bit more so than us, and you know we're trying to work through some of those things as we go right here throughout the season."

Fords have led 59 percent of all laps this year. Harvick has led 21 percent of the laps this year, followed by Kyle Busch (12.8 percent), Blaney (10.7 percent), Larson (9.1 percent) and Truex (7.1 percent).

"We know [Harvick's team is] the better group right now," Busch said. "I don't think anybody should not say that they're the better group right now.

"I'm not saying that we feel bad not being the better group right now. We just know that we've got to go to work and get ourselves to that point and we're not quite there yet."