Blown engines put Labonte, Stewart, Patrick in rear for Daytona qualifying

jutter@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 15, 2014 

— Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers utilizing engines from Hendrick Motorsports saw their engines blow up during practice on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

Engines in the cars of Bobby Labonte (Phoenix Racing) and Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick (both Stewart-Hass Racing) all had to be replaced. All three drivers will start from the rear of their respective Thursday qualifying race regardless of how they qualify on Sunday for the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.

A fourth car with a Hendrick engine, the No. 51 of Justin Allgaier, developed an oil line problem during the practice session.

“It was a concern when Tony blew up, and then we did,” Patrick said. “It’s something we’re doing in our family, I guess, and we need to figure it out. I’m sure Hendrick teams are wondering what is going on.”

A Hendrick spokesman said there appeared to be a common problem in the “bottom end” of the engines.

HMS officials also asked driver Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing) to curtail his last qualifying run during practice to prevent his engine from expiring as well.

Newman is fastest: Richard Childress Racing led the way during Saturday’s final practice before Sunday’s Daytona 500 qualifying session.

Ryan Newman posted the fastest lap of the day at 195.346 mph to lead the way. He was followed by RCR teammate Austin Dillon. Rookie Kyle Larson was third fastest. All three drive Chevrolets.

Marcos Ambrose was the fastest Ford (sixth) while Matt Kenseth was the fastest Toyota driver (11th).

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