Teams sabotaged at Atlanta? UPDATE #2 NASCAR officials said Friday morning that water contamination that plagued several cars in last week’s Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway has been traced to a portable fuel dispenser. The cars of #11-Denny Hamlin, #22-Dave Blaney and #16-Greg Biffle were among those to suffer contamination from water in the fuel.
10/30/07 Tests conducted Monday night showed no water in any of the fuel systems in the cars tested that day at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Crystal clear," Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby reported Tuesday afternoon.
Water got into the fuel of several cars during the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday at Atlanta. With those cars gone and the new cars of tomorrow being used in the test Monday and Tuesday, NASCAR asked the teams to check their cars Monday night and see if there were any additional problems.
Darby believes NASCAR will be able to come close to pinpointing exactly what happened. He suspects it was part of the plumbing or a hose among those that runs from the underground fuel tank to and through the fuel dispenser.
The fuel in the underground tanks shows no contamination.
"I think that we will [find it]," Darby said. "We haven't yet. But the fact that everything's clear here all day yesterday and today, what that tells you is the fuel itself is not contaminated.
"There's a huge difference between having contaminated fuel or a contaminant introduced in between the fuel [tank] and the race car. It's obviously not a problem with the fuel. Unfortunately the fuel was the carrier."
There are four fuel dispensing stations at the gasoline fill-up area. Those are used more than just on NASCAR race weekends for racing schools and other racing events at the track.
"I believe it was one instance at one pump that had however much in it," Darby said. Scenedaily.com10/28/07 At least three teams, including Denny Hamlin's, said they found water in the fuel they used at the track. Hamlin was leading when his engine lost power with four laps remaining in Sunday’s Pep Boys 500. The teams of Greg Biffle and Dave Blaney reported the same problem.
Crew chiefs and NASCAR officials were attempting late Sunday to find where the problem might have originated. Preliminary tests from the Sunoco pumps used at the track showed no water in the fuel, NASCAR said.
"I felt we were pretty good on fuel and even felt like we were real close even if it went green-white-checkered," Hamlin said. "All day, we had been getting water in our fuel, we weren’t getting the full potential of the fuel.”
“It’s just one of those times when you think your luck is going to change. You think it’s your day and it just wasn’t our day.
"I feel bad for the guys behind us who got caught up in that wreck.”
NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter confirmed after the race that several teams had reported finding water in their fuel.
“We have looked into it with Sunoco and confirmed there was no water in the gas that was dispensed from the tanks here at the race track,” he said. “John Darby (Nextel Cup Series director) and our other officials will continue to look into it.
“There are a lot of things that could have happened. It’s not the first time water has been found in a gas tank. There are all sorts of possibilities.”
""The teams did give me a sample from each of those cars that has a little bit of water in it, but again water always settles to the bottom," Darby said. "What you don't know is when the water got introduced, was it two weeks ago, was it a week ago ...
"What we're pretty confident of is the dump cans they were using today, because they're all stored in their tractor trailers and locked up all weekend, and all the fuel that we've taken, including just doing a chemical test on the [Sunoco] tanks over there, show no condensation."
Sabotage is also a possibility, Hunter said. “There are ways people could put something in there. We don’t anticipate that. We have security here all night,” he said.
Tommy Baldwin, Blaney’s crew chief, said his team had the fuel problems throughout the race.