Like most Nascar racers, Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart were taking advantage of the practice time before the Daytona 500. All seemed well for both racers until the last hour of practice. Both Patrick and Stewart suffered blown engines. While changing the engines was a simple task for the team crews, diagnosing the problem and reason behind the blown engines was not simple.
“We feel like we understand what’s happening,’’ Doug Duchardt, general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, said. “The drivers have been consistent in feeling it’s something in the bottom end of the engine. For tonight and for the rest of the week when we go to race we really don’t have any concerns with the Sprint Unlimited or getting into the Daytona 500. I think it’s us trying to maximize two laps for tomorrow. It’s not a specific component issue. It’s how we go about trying to minimize the time around the track for qualifying.’’
Even worse for the team, swapping for an unapproved engine will mean that the drivers will have to start at the rear of the field, even if they win the pole or outside pole position for the Daytona 500.
Neither teammate seems to be concerned about using their backup motors and are still confident in their abilities to win. Patrick claimed that she was actually thankful that her motor blew when it did saying,
“I only had a few hundred yards to go before the start/finish line then I would have shut it off (and ended practice), so I guess I’m glad it happened then — being five seconds away from blowing up — because that would have been tomorrow (if she had come into the garage as planned).”
The Daytona 500 will take place on February 23.
Do you think the engine swap will cause problems for Patrick and Stewart?
Image via Wikimedia Commons.