Toyota Racing Development president Lee White resigns

Todd Warshaw

The man who leads Toyota’s NASCAR program stepped down from his day-to-day duties Tuesday, effective immediately.

The man who led Toyota's charge into NASCAR is relinquishing his day-to-day to duties and will retire at the end of the year.

Citing "family health care needs," Lee White, the president of Toyota Racing Development, is stepping aside according to a statement released Tuesday.

White joined Toyota in 1997 and guided the manufacturer's North American racing programs in NASCAR, IndyCar, CART, Grand-Am, NHRA and USAC.

Most notably, under his leadership White spearheaded Toyota's entry into NASCAR in 2004 beginning in the Truck Series. In 2007 TRD started fielding cars in NASCAR's premiere series and in that timeframe won 55 Sprint Cup Series races.

"I have been planning and working toward retirement at the end of this race season in December," White said in a statement. "I have been offered and accepted an opportunity to perform a reduced amount of duties from my home office. This generous arrangement afforded to us by the company will allow me to attend to personal family priorities."

His departure comes at time when Toyota has been dealing with a rash of engine failures this season including two high-profile blown motors in the Daytona 500 that sidelined Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. And in Sunday's race at Dover, Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. had reliability issues when both were running in the top five.

Altogether Toyota had six of its engines fail during races this season.

Toyota also manufactured an engine for Joe Gibbs Racing that had an underweight connecting rod resulting in severe penalties for the team. The sanctions were later reduced on appeal with White accepting responsibility for the incident calling it an "oversight."

In the statement released Tuesday, Toyota made no mention of the engine failures or the illegal part found on Kenseth's car.

"Lee has contributed enormously to Toyota Motorsports in his 15 years with TRD," said Toyota Group Vice President and General Manager Bill Fay in the statement. "His leadership has resulted in victories and championships in a broad spectrum of racing series.

"He's had an impressive career and his day-to-day leadership will be missed."

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