JGR, Toyota to unify engine efforts

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Research and Development announced Thursday that they are combining their engine efforts in 2012.

Officials said there is a chance that JGR cars could use engines out of TRD headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif., before the end of this season, but that the focus is on next year.

Economics in part drove the merger. As Lee White, the president of TRD said, "Building for three teams or less is extremely expensive and inefficient."

JGR builds all of its engines while the other Toyota teams -- Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing -- receive engines from TRD. With JGR looking to expand its Nationwide presence and add a Trucks program, the merger gives the organization more flexibility.

With the future of Red Bull Racing in doubt, the addition of JGR also allows TRD to maintain a full workload if Red Bull's organization folds or is moved to another manufacturer with new investors.

There has been speculation that RBR could move to Chevrolet and receive its engines from Hendrick Motorsports.

JGR president J.D. Gibbs said the partnership will allow head engine builder Mark Cronquist and other key personnel to be on the road more and work through issues with fuel injection that will be introduced into the sport next year.

There also is hope that the effort will provide more power and durability for both sides. TRD engines haven't been as powerful as JGR engines, but JGR engines have had durability issues.

"I think we can combine a lot of the best attributes that JGR has, the best attributes that TRD has and really have a better package going forward," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said JGR will maintain its engine shop in Huntersville, N.C., so that it can make any tweaks to the engines it deems necessary and to work on other projects.

"The good news for our guys (is) not one person will have to worry about being displaced from this partnership," Gibbs said. "We take all our attributes and maximize that, all of TRD's and maximize that and kind of combine them going forward.

"I think that will work out well."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com