Daytona 500 practice saw some action this afternoon as three drivers blew engines late in the second session.
Bobby Labonte was the first to loose an engine when his No.52 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet started smoking. Not long after, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Tony Stewart lost the engine under the hood of his No.14 Bass Pro Shops Chevy. It didn’t take long for the No.10 GoDaddy Chevrolet of Danica Patrick to follow suit.
All three engines were supplied by Hendrick Motorsports.
The two SHR drivers said they had no indication that their engines were about to let go.
“The good thing about having the telemetry is you can see what’s going on and what’s happening, but it wasn’t anything like we had a warning, it happened all at once,” said Stewart. “Hopefully the (new) motor we put in will be just as good as this one. If this happened getting ready for the race, you’d be a little more concerned. They pay the big check a week from (Sunday).”
Patrick said having her engine blow when it did was really a blessing in disguise.
“I only had a few hundred yards to go before the start/finish line then I would have shut it off (and ended practice),” she said. “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).”
Hendrick Motorsports engine specialists are still dissecting the engines, specifically Patrick’s, to see what exactly caused the three engines to expire. Director of track engine support for Hendrick Motorsports, Scott Maxim, confirmed that initially it looked like a problem in the back end of both Stewart and Patrick’s engines.
Patrick’s Crew Chief Tony Gibson is optimistic about his team’s predicament saying, “these things happen. you’re asking these engines to do a lot, run a lot of RPMs, run hot, a lot of crazy stuff. Obviously, they’ve proven we can build really fast motors. Those guys will come up with an answer and we’ll put another one in here and we’ll be fine. It could just be a batch of something. Engine parts are crazy. You could get a thousand parts and have only two of them with a nick or something like that. I imagine those other guys are really nervous, but they do a fantastic job and we never have engine problems.”
NASCAR announced that the engine changes for the three teams were unapproved and the No.10, No.14 and No.52 teams will have to start in the back of the field for both the Budweiser Duels and the Daytona 500.