Nascar Weekly – February 14th, 2008

Nascar Weekly
by Virginia Vroom of

This week has been a weird one, for lack of a better term. This is
because some major mechanical issues are affecting not only one
manufacturer but two.

Yesterday during practice sessions for the Daytona 500, the entire
Hendrick garage decided to pull engines from their four cars. This is
seemingly because of a problem with lifters within the engine. The
lifters, which were previously made of cast iron, are now made of
steel and require a special coating to allow them to move up and
down. The coating is where the problems lie. If the coating wears
off even just the slightest bit, it can cause a fatal blow to the
entire engine. The lifters are very important as they raise the
valves up and down as the cam rotates.

Essentially, we are left with Jr., Gordon, Johnson, and Mears without
motors as of yesterday. Nothing broke during practice, but teams do
not want to take the risk of causing a wreck and involving other cars
when they knowinly have a problem. Chad Knaus stated on Wednesday
that their guys back in the Hendrick shop in Charlotte are working
doubletime to get the engine problems fixed and sent back down before
the duels today and the 500 on Sunday. The bigger problem with this
story is that Hendrick supplies motors to several other drivers. With
this being a widespread problem, drivers like Scott Riggs and Clint
Bowyer also had to pull their engines.


But the weirdness of the situation comes in because Toyota motors are
having the same problem. As of right now, it has not been determined
if the lifters in the Chevys and Toyotas came from the same team, but
those who run Toyota setups do not believe this to be the case. The
Toyotas that were affected in the engine swaps include J.J. Yeley,
Denny Hamlin, A.J. Allmendinger, and Tony Stewart.

Because of all of these engine swaps, several cars are starting at the
rear of today’s duels. All of those Chevy and Toyota drivers must
move to the rear of the field for today’s duels, but Jimmie Johnson’s
pole position for the 500 is not affected as NASCAR allows an engine
swap between the duels and Sunday’s Great American Race.

The last practice speeds for the 500 are as follows:

1. Ryan Newman
2. Michael Waltrip
3. Dave Blaney
4. Bill Elliot
5. Kasey Kahne
6. David Reutimann
7. Brian Vickers
8. Patrick Carpentier
9. Dale Jarrett
10. Stanton Barrett

These are some interesting names seeing as there is one Chevy in the
top ten and that belongs to Stanton Barret. Who would’ve though? The
rest of the top ten include five Toyotas, three Dodges, and one Ford.
Hopefully, the rest of the boys can get their acts together before the
500 this Sunday. But then again, we’ll see how strong they run with
those engine swaps today during the duels. Be sure to tune into the
duels airing on SPEED today at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for the second.
These races are setting up the running order for Sunday’s 500. With
the exception of Jimmie Johnson grabbing the pole last Sunday, the
duels are set to be an exciting matchup as the boys race for
qualifying in this one of a kind setup for Daytona.