There's more news from Daytona, as the closed-cockpit 'merican rubbin' is racin' league has levied what would seem to be some pretty serious sanctions against Michael Waltrip over the "undetermined substance" in the engine manifold of his #55 Toyota car before qualifying runs at Daytona on Sunday. In fact, the sanctions are the worst NASCAR's ever given out, as AutoWeek reports:
"Crew chief David Hyder and MWR director of competition Bobby Kennedy were physically ejected from the speedway and suspended indefinitely. Hyder was fined a NASCAR-record $100,000. "Indefinite means very long," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice-president of competition. "They were ejected, so they can't appeal not being here this weekend. At some future time they'll apply and ask to be let back in, and we'll sit down and look into it."
As the driver, Waltrip was docked 100 points. His wife, Buffy, the team's "official" owner (although in title only), also was docked 100 points. The point penalties will stand regardless of when he finally qualifies for a race.
That sounds like it's a bad sanction, but what do we know — so we went to ask our NASCAR Insider what this all means and whether they thought the sanctions were too severe. We were told...
"NASCAR made it clear that of all the cars inspected this was the only one that had any foreign substance in the intake manifold...when it was found in pre-qualifying inspection, NASCAR took a very liberal stance by allowing them to remove the intake, replace it, and go through that part of the inspection again. During the second inspection, the same thing happened, so the car was impounded.
Someone who had done this previously with success tried it here and failed. My guess is that the design of the toyota intake manifold floor allowed the substance to gather and puddle, where previously it had flowed into the cylinders undetected. It sounds like whoever introduced the substance, didn't test it on a Toyota engine first to see what would happen during normal inspection procedure."
Ok, that made sense to us, but wasn't this kind of a big gamble for the Waltrip team? Our sources agreed, and although NASCAR's not being specific on what exactly the substance they found was, we can assume that the team did one of two things — they put something in the fuel or put some kind of substance in the manifold that would get ingested and burn off. We were also told that although some
race reporters tossed out "jet fuel" as the additive don't realize jet fuel isn't much more than kerosene.
"In reality whatever they were using was more like "rocket fuel," which needs to include both the fuel substance and oxygen in order to burn in space."
Thus, our source guesses it was some kind of oxygenant added to the Sonoco race fuel by a team member because as everyone knows, the trick's not getting more fuel into the engine, its getting more oxygen in. Thus we're now starting to realize you've got to be a rocket scientist to really understand NASCAR. Maybe that's been our problem all these years. Whatever degree is necessary to get the physics of a Toyota engine, one thing's for certain — it's a black eye to the folks from the land of the rising sun who were looking to be pushing cars off the lots come next Monday — now they'll be lucky to see anyone finish in the top ten on Sunday much less worry about sales the next day.
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