NASCAR confiscates the #66 car When Dave Blaney headed to the garage in his #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota after 43 laps [at Auto Club Speedway], NASCAR officials were waiting. Three laps earlier, #55-Michael McDowell drove the other Prism Motorsports car to the garage. The final race report concluded that both cars had engine failures. So why did the sanctioning body confiscate the #66 car? "Because they can," said Bill Henderson, crew chief of the #66 team and general manager for Prism Motorsports.
Henderson, who has just two cars for the team, was told the car will not be returned until next Saturday - long after qualifying is over. However, the primary car has the basics of racing - swaybar, shocks and springs - that the team simply can't afford to duplicate on the backup car. Without those necessities, Henderson will not be able to race. Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said he hopes to perform the inspection at Las Vegas in order to return the car to the team in a timely fashion, but that's hardly a guarantee.
Which begs the question: Is NASCAR attempting to send the message to "start and park" teams -those that enter a race primarily to collect a check and don't always try to finish - not to stink up their show? Prism Motorsports wasn't the only team that ended their day prematurely Sunday at Fontana.
Joe Nemechek initially parked his car on Lap 27 then mysteriously returned to the track a short time later and ran an additional 27 laps before a "rear gear" failed. Boris Said also went into the garage early, came back out, and then disappeared. Even Aric Almirola, who was driving the #09 Phoenix Racing entry that won at Talladega last year, ended up in the garage after 34 laps with an engine failure.
"It's one thing to try to race each week," said the manager of a team that generally finishes among the 40-somethings who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But I think doing two (teams) to get a check isn't going to sit very well with NASCAR." Prism Motorsports pocketed $160,070 for Sunday's combined effort of 83 laps. #17-Matt Kenseth, who finished seventh, ran the full 500 miles and earned a $161,696 pay day.
Darby said choosing the #66 Toyota as "the random" car was part of "the normal inspection procedure. That particular car stood out given that Blaney qualified fifth and led three laps. "The 'randomness' of inspection covers everyone in the field," Darby said. "The 66 was a car that was very competitive. Yes, he was outside of the top 35, but he was the fastest of the group. He was fifth overall qualifying and he led the race today. We've got to make sure that as we fulfill our responsibility to our competitors to make sure that everyone is playing with the same rulebook and adhering to the same rules and that means everybody. That car deserves a look at to make sure it's up to start." Darby said the sanctioning body cannot try to "outguess the teams" to determine who the start-and-park cars are every weekend. FoxSports
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