Hendrick cars to start at back of qualifying races UPDATE For years, Hendrick Motorsports' motors have developed a reputation for near-bulletproof durability. But Wednesday, a significant chink developed in that armor, prompting five of nine Hendrick-built motors to be pulled from their respective cars.
"There's definitely an issue," Jeff Gordon said shortly after the motor in his No. 24 Chevrolet was removed.
Initial examination of the suspect motors centered on the valve lifters, said Jeff Andrews, director of engine development for Hendrick Motorsports.
"We did not have any of them that truly broke," Andrews said. "We have assumptions based on some early signs we saw in some checkovers following that early practice."
Motors in all four Hendrick-owned cars – those of Gordon, two-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – were all removed around 3 p.m. (ET) Wednesday during the longest Cup practice session of Speedweeks thus far.
The motor in the CNC/Haas Chevrolet of Scott Riggs was also removed.
Hendrick-built motors were not removed from the CNC/Haas Chevy of Jeremy Mayfield, the two Furniture Row Racing Chevys of Joe Nemechek and Kenny Wallace and the Miccosukee Indian Nation Chevrolet.
But later Wednesday, the problem widened to include several Toyotas that also had their engines pulled for potentially similar problems with the lifters.
The Toyota Camrys of Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, A.J. Allmendinger and J.J. Yeley all were forced to switch engines.
"It sounds like the Gibbs and Hendrick stuff is very similar," said Richie Gilmore, director of the joint Dale Earnhardt Inc./Richard Childress Racing engine development program. "A lot of us use the same vendors, so I wouldn't be surprised if it's that same type of issue with the Hendrick's stuff, that it's a coating issue.
"If it's a bad batch of coating or gets off just a little bit – the coating wears off – it's just like glass. Then you have steel on steel and have that coating going through your engine. It's basically like a diamond: it goes through the engine, wears out your rings and your bearings. It's not a good thing." Yahoo! Sports02/13/08 Hendrick Motorsports, which went through all of last year's Sprint Cup season without major engine problems, isn't off to a good start in 2008.
All four HMS drivers -- Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears -- will start in the back of the field in Thursday's 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500 after their engines were replaced on Wednesday afternoon.
Jeff Andrews, HMS's head engine builder, said the problem appears to be related to a batch of lifters.
The problem also was discovered in the cars of Joe Nemechek and Kenny Wallace of Furniture Row Racing, and Scott Riggs and Jeremy Mayfield of Haas Racing. All four are powered by HMS engines.
But the problem wasn't contained to HMS. Toyota is bringing new engines from California for Dale Jarrett and A.J. Allmendinger. Joe Gibbs Racing is bringing new engines for Tony Stewart and J.J. Yeley.
Because the problem appears consistent among both manufacturers officials are speculating it is related to coating on the lifters that could have come from the same vendor.
"We took engines back after the Bud Shootout, they look really good, looked great," Andrews said. "So we are looking at a batch issue right now and trying to sort through some things to get the guys in Charlotte pointed in the right direction." ESPN.com