Motorsport News

Are JGR Engine Woes a Concern or Bad Luck?

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1. Engine Problems at Joe Gibbs Racing. Fluke or Cause for Worry?

Had Christopher Bell not had an engine issue at World Wide Technology Raceway, odds are good that he’d have left with a win. While it’s not clear how well Denny Hamlin would have run at Sonoma Raceway, you’d have to imagine the No. 11 would have been a factor if not for an expired engine in the opening laps.

As far as postseason spots go, neither Bell nor Hamlin are in danger of missing the cut. But drivers like Ty Gibbs and Martin Truex Jr. are not yet locked in with a win, and if neither collects a race win between now and Daytona International Speedway in late August, they run the risk of a tightrope walk. That’s something that could come down to whether or not a finish of 35th or worse happens.

That’s why this week could be key to drivers not just at Joe Gibbs Racing, but any others trying to race their way into the postseason. It was revealed after Gateway that a broken valve spring caused Bell’s car to fade late, costing him a win.

Was it a similar issue to what caused Hamlin’s engine to be one of the terminal nature? That’s clearly something being looked into this week by the Toyota Racing Development engine brain trust.

The bottom line is this: If there’s an issue with the TRD engines, it needs to be nipped in the bud now before it’s more costly down the road.

2. Did Iowa Just Equalize The Field With Its Unique Repave?

More often than not, any thought of a repave leads to thoughts of less-than-thrilling racing. For various reasons, racecars going side-by-side on new asphalt early does not happen as much. Yes, speeds are higher, but the time needed to age the track typically does not set in instantly.

There are obvious exceptions like this past weekend in Sonoma and Atlanta Motor Speedway’s reconfiguration, but it’s hard not to fear a race of single-file completion at Iowa Speedway given the combo of a kind of new surface and NASCAR’s short-track package.

In a roundabout way, the recent Iowa repave — with some of the track repaved — may turn everyone’s plan on its head.

Remember how the Goodyear tires at Bristol Motor Speedway created an element of unknown and forced crew chiefs to adjust on the go and drivers to adapt as well? That’s what this repave could do. Remember, lots of drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series raced at Iowa in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series. With the adjustment to the…

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