Lots of trouble for Stewart-Haas Racing at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (AP) — Engine troubles during the day, wrecked cars at night. Stewart-Haas Racing found all sorts of trouble at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Tony Stewart, SHR’s owner and driver, and teammate Danica Patrick got the miserable day started with blown engines in pole practice for the Daytona 500. They will have to start at the back of the field in Thursday’s qualifying race and in the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.
Things got worse in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race a few hours later.
Stewart, Patrick, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch were involved in a nine-car wreck in the race, knocking out three of the four SHR cars in the event that kicks off the NASCAR season. Harvick was able to return to the track but was well off the pace.
“You hate to have that happen,” Stewart said. “That’s just part of it. Back at Daytona.”
The melee started when Matt Kenseth turned in front of Joey Logano. Logano’s front bumper turned Kenseth’s car sideways, triggering the multi-car pileup.
Patrick tried to weave her way through the obstacle course of wrecked cars, but her left-side tires got on the infield grass, turning her sideways. And as she tried to straighten out her No. 10 Chevrolet, her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., plowed into her.
“I got hit by my boyfriend. What a bummer,” Patrick said. “I was having fun and I felt like I was learning a lot. It was good to run with those guys. It would have been nice to get it to the end for the experience.”
SHR has to hope the rest of the week improves from here.
Stewart, Patrick and HScott Motorsports driver Bobby Labonte also had engine failures in practice, creating concern that Hendrick Motorsports might have issues. Stewart, Patrick and Labonte all lease engines from Hendrick, which also fields cars for Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
Labonte’s engine went first. Stewart’s started smoking a bit later, followed about 10 minutes later by Patrick’s.
“I was like, ‘Man, are we doing something?’” Patrick said. “It’s something that we are doing in our family here and we need to figure it out. ”
Though Hendrick drivers had no engine problems, Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt and Kahne seemed to be down on horsepower. The fastest Hendrick driver during the first practice was Gordon, who was 21st on the speed chart.
“We feel like we understand what is happening,” Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt said. “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. ”