Saturday, February 28, 2009

Speed on pole for Nationwide race

LAS VEGAS -- Scott Speed became the ninth driver to win the pole in his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Speed ran a lap at 182.451 mph in a No. 99 Toyota prepared by Michael Waltrip Racing to earn the top starting spot for Saturday afternoon's Sam's Town 300 at the 1.5-mile track.
Kevin Harvick will start second in the Nationwide race. Greg Biffle starts third.
Speed's pole-winning run was a bright spot for Toyota on what has so far been a trying weekend.
Lee White of Toyota Racing Development said Saturday that engine issues that forced four teams using TRD-built motors to change them Friday were "embarassing."
Speed, Brian Vickers, David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose all had issues with the lifters and camshafts. Kyle Busch, who won the pole for Sunday's Cup race, also changed engines Friday but that was unrelated to the engines in the other Toyotas. Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing team builds its own engines and does not use the TRD engines.
White said TRD used the same engine components in last fall's Cup race at Texas without issue. They brought it back last weekend at Auto Club Speedway and Brian Vickers had the same problem after he won the pole. But during the race there were no issues.
TRD personnel looked at the issue this week and thought they had developed something that would take care of it. But, White said, it now appears they went in the wrong direction.
White said TRD and the teams would look closely at how the replaced engines performed in Saturday's Cup practices. He said TRD is preparing to go back to a previous generation of components for next weekend at Atlanta if that becomes necessary.
Michael Waltrip's team has not changed engines in the No. 55. White said it appears that once an engine gets beyond about 75 miles without showing a problem they've been OK.
Robby Gordon and Max Papis also use TRD engines and they have had no problems so far. Papis' car is using the previous generation components.

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