Problems Plague Hendrick’s Chevy Engines
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It was a day when Chevrolet drivers swept the top-five positions during Saturday’s Daytona 500 practice but there was nothing positive for Chevy’s highest-profile engine supplier.
Three Hendrick Engines blew up and an oil line failed on another. That created an air of concern for Doug Duchardt at Hendrick Engines as well as some of the top teams that hope to win next Sunday’s 56th Daytona 500.
Two of those that suffered engine failures were two-time Brickyard 400 winner and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart as well as last year’s Daytona 500 pole winner Danica Patrick.
“Data that we have been able to look at would suggest that it’s something in the bottom end of the engine,” said Scott Maxim, director of engine track support at Hendrick Motorsports. “Really, until we get the engines further apart to be able to more closely analyze them, I really couldn’t see anything anymore than that right now.
“Moving forward, we will be alright. We will identify what we’ve got and we will make changes needed and I think that we will be able to make corrective action. Certainly as well for tomorrow, we will be able to look the engines over closely and make sure that we are not going into tomorrow with an issue. Then after that, we will be all good.”
Duchardt is the general manager at Hendrick Motorsports and indicate the engine failures are a matter of his team “pushing the limit” to try to have the fastest engine possible for Sunday’s two-lap runs during qualifications.
“Across the board we are trying to do the best we can for qualifying tomorrow for those two laps,” Duchardt said. “We’ve worked through that process. Obviously we have been pushing the limit and we found the limit there. We feel like we understand what is happening. We will get the engines back over and tear them down from NASCAR. I think we will be able to confirm everything that is happening. The drivers have been consistent they feel like it has been something in the bottom end of the engine. We think we understand what is happening there and we will take a look at that. For tonight and for the rest of the week when we go to race we don’t have any concerns with the Sprint Unlimited or as we get into the twins or the (Daytona) 500.
“I think it is just part of us trying to maximize two laps for tomorrow. So it’s not a specific component issue. It’s just how we go about trying to minimize going around the track for qualifying.”
Another Chevrolet driver, Jamie McMurray at Chip Ganassi Racing, came down pit road to abort his qualifying simulation and that was an attempt to keep his engine from blowing up.
“Once we saw some things that were happening and saw some data we knew they were on pit road getting to run again,” Duchardt said. “They had started a run when Tony (Stewart) had an issue. So we wanted to get them back in take some time, look at that data, understand where they were at and make a decision. I don’t think they had enough time to get back out. That is why we did that we didn’t want to we just didn’t want to have another issue. We wanted to be on the safe side with that. So we called Keith (Rodden) and Keith understands he has worked with us before when he was with the 5 car last year so he understands how we work and go about things so that was pretty easy.”
Stewart, who on Friday returned to a race car for the first time since suffered a badly broken leg in a sprint car crash in Iowa on August 5, explained what happened to his engine during the second of two practice sessions on Saturday.