Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Okay, NASCAR: Let's dust off that engine-chassis dyno and check out these motors

Think you've got it tough? Suppose that $2.5 million check you were counting on just bounced. Chevy team owner Richard Childress (L) and Rick Hendrick (R). Hendrick would blow 'em away in a chassis dyno test....if NASCAR hadn't put that chassis dyno in mothballs somewhere (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   SONOMA, Calif.
   Where is NASCAR's engine-chassis dyno?
   Let's check out all these Sprint Cup motors and see just who's got what under the hood.
   Do Rick Hendrick's Chevy engines  pull a lot more horsepower than rivals? Is that perhaps why Jeff Gordon doesn't want any tweaks to these 900-horsepower behemoths?
   How much horsepower is too much for these machines? For good racing?
   It's been a long time since NASCAR did an at-track engine dyno test, to compare the various makes.
   At the moment it appears that Hendrick's engines are the class of the sport, and that Toyota and Ford are struggling….and that Dodge's new R6 engine is still somewhat of an unknown.
    But NASCAR officials should haul out that chassis-dyno and put the top engines to the test – last week's race at Michigan was the perfect opportunity. The upcoming race at Chicago should be placed on the NASCAR docket.
   In fact it's surprising that NASCAR has mothballed the chassis-dyno. Perhaps officials are afraid of what they might learn.
  So what to make of Toyota at the moment? What to make of Kyle Busch's slump?
   Rick Hendrick's Chevy teams are by far the class of the sport; everyone else is playing for second, even Busch.
   No wonder all the speculation that Toyota's Team Red Bull may switch to Chevrolets next season. If Hendrick-power and engineering can work wonders for Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, why not Jay Frye's Red Bull guys.
   Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate:
    "About two weeks ago I called the team meeting to try to get everyone together.  Everyone needed to get on the same page -- drivers, owners, engineers, crew chiefs. I was going to get with them on all the issues and put my input on it. 
    "What we're trying to do is find a gauge of what we need to work on before the chase starts.
     "I think our motor program is a little bit behind. 
     "Probably our best aspect is our chassis. 
     "In aero I think we're a little bit off. 
     "I think there's a little bit of a lot that's wrong with our stuff right now.
      "But that's what the meeting is for -- to try figure out what issues are the most important, the '911' issues that we need to work on right now.
     "Some things won't be immediate.  Some things will probably be a year down the road, realistically.
    "Some things are things we can work on with our test team.
     "For most of our issues it's going to be a few months down the road before you're going to see anything here at the race track itself."
    Toyota men Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch took the front row at Sonoma, but neither man challenged for the win. Busch led early but midway he got into a corner too hard and banged into Sam Hornish Jr. The damage cost Busch several laps for repairs.
    More bad luck struck with 25 miles to go when Jeff Burton spun Busch.
    Given that, Busch did well to make it back to 22nd.
    But Busch didn't make any points with Vickers, over that crash with Hornish.
    "We were really fast, especially on the short run," Vickers said. "Kyle looked like he had a lot softer springs in the rear, and in the long run he just had better forward drive at the end of a run. So they got by us.
    "But the biggest thing that hurt us was Kyle wrecking Sam and wrecking himself. He and I both were sitting in great positions with great strategy….I don'’t know what he was thinking.  That was stupid. 
    "He had no reason to be racing Sam that hard….and wreck him, and wreck himself. And when he wrecked himself, when he took back off, he drilled us in the door and cut a right-rear down, closed our pipes off, which ended up blowing the motor -- so we were down 100 or 200 horsepower the rest of the race.
    "We made the most of it…but we just can't catch a break."

    Tour leader Tony Stewart continued his charmed season, padding his lead over hard-luck Jeff Gordon.
    The Tony Stewart-Kasey Kahne finale was unexpected. Stewart is one of the best road racers in NASCAR, and Kahne, who had never won a road race, appeared a sitting duck.
   But despite four late restarts – side-by-side even, under NASCAR new rules (a thumbs up on that for the sanctioning body) – Stewart could do nothing with Kahne.
    Really surprising, considering the horsepower edge that Hendrick-powered teams like Stewart's have enjoyed this season, and the engine issues that Dodge teams have had to deal with.
   "We got off to a little slow start, but once we got 15 or 20 laps into the run, we were one of the fastest cars on the track, and we just kept marching forward," Stewart said.
   "We weren't getting the fuel mileage we wanted, and that changed our strategy -- Instead of it being a two stop race, it turned into a three stop race for us."
    After nearly two hours of fairly boring action, drivers picked up the pace considerably in the final 60 miles, with Kahne, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, and even Jimmie Johnson battling with Stewart.
   "To have three or four of us at the end that had a shot to get up there if anybody made a mistake, that's an awesome road course race," Stewart said.
    "The restarts were awesome. They were fun. The fans had to enjoy that. And it was a good race.
    "Kasey just never made a mistake at the end. He did an awesome job those last 20 laps and never slipped a wheel, never missed a corner, and made a mistake. 
   "He made one mistake the whole time in the closing laps, and we were able to get a run on him, but we couldn't do anything when we got there. 
   "He was just better than we were."

   Injured Johnny Benson, the 2008 NASCAR Truck champion who just lost his ride, because of sponsorship issues, and who then was badly battered in a short-track crash 10 days ago, says he's got three broken ribs, a broken right wrist, a  broken left scapula, and two broken collarbones.
    Benson says all that makes it hard to breath at times. But since he doesn't have a NASCAR ride, he's under no pressure to heal quickly.

   Marcos Ambrose, the big-smiling Aussie with a rough-house touch at the wheel, made for excellent entertainment Sunday. He started last and battled his way into contention for the win, finishing third, his best of the year.
    "I was hot, I was mad, I was happy…and I was sad, all together," Ambrose says of his weekend.
   "We had a bad day on Saturday (blowing an engine), and we were in the hole pretty good.
    "I was mad; I wasn't down, I was just angry.  We had a chance to win the race and I thought maybe it had been taken from us. 
    "But they just rallied around me and gave me the support I needed, the confidence to go out there to get aggressive.
     "We tried some strategy that was a little oddball, but it worked out in our favor. 
    "Our plan was to see how far I could get up there…and then if I was getting held up too long, just come in and get out of there. 
   "I was just so worried when they were all getting wadded up and the tires are down – it's so easy to get damage and not really show any speed. 
    "I complained and whined on the radio until they said 'Yeah, come on in, get some tires.' We just got out of sequence. 
   "We ran a heavy fuel strategy too. We ran a lot of fuel, trying to set ourselves up to pass cars…and we didn't have the fuel mileage that many others had.  So we knew we couldn't do it just on stretching fuel mileage. So we had to do it on speed. 
    "Getting clean air, staying out of all that riff-raff…it was lap 70 (of 112) before we really got back in the pack again.
    "We passed a lot of cars.  I reckon we passed the field three times over today. I felt like I passed 200 cars during the race.
    "We did the same thing at Watkins Glen last year, started in the rear and drove up to third: took chances and got lucky.
    "We burned up the tires and couldn't get forward bite. I thought I was at Eldora.
    "But we know we are doing it right when we are racing two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and a Formula One and Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
   "I just love racing with Smoke. I think he's one of the best road course racers out there."
    The final 40 miles, with those restart, were "intense," Ambrose said.
    "It's no fun. Then the caution comes out for the green-white-checker, and you know you can go from third to 33rd with one mistake, after putting in all that effort all day. 
    "All of us just wanted to bring it home somehow.
    "I really wanted to attack Smoke. But he deserved second, and I wasn't going to take it off him unless I had a clean pass.  I just couldn't get to his bumper bar in time. 
    "And Jimmie was peppering my bumper. 
     "Just bring it home, that's all I was thinking.
     "It's very much a pressure environment when it's like that."

chassis dyno

where in the world do you get your horsepower info mike ?
i cant belive you still want that old unreliable outdated machine to give us horsepower numbers. why do you think nascar got away from it and started useing an in-house water brake dyno at the R/D center.
Even all the engine tuners,builders, and owners knew and still know that the chassis dyno useing an outdated correction formula cant and dont give you real power numbers.

yes, testing in-house is much

yes, testing in-house is much preferable to testing in-the-field....but who knows what NASCAR really does at the RD center anyway? They've taken the at-track inspection away from the track --- why? to keep things secret. I always felt it was important for teams to be able to watch the post-race teardown, to be able to keep nascar honest about it.
and just what are the real horsepower numbers right now?

dyno numbers

as it was, and still is policy during post-race engine teardown, all team members are present during inspection. all teams are required to disassemble engines in front of each other. it is not allowed to cover anything up. pretty hard to keep things secret that way...
Approx. 4/5 times a year, engines are taken from each team, post-race and dyno'ed at the r/d center with a team rep. from each of the teams.
ALL HORSEPOWER numbers are given to each team owner and posted together for all to see.
i guess you can see why the media is not involved in that part.
im not saying i agree with nascar on this policy ( its kind of a hassle ) but is the only fair way to do it...
as far as real horsepower numbers are concerned, you cant compare each teams dyno numbers, as they are only relevent to themselves.
nascars dyno numbers are in the 850 range, and all teams being within 10 h.p. or so of eachother.
i know people think there is a huge conspiracy going on, but it just aint so, sorry.

nascar has long since stopped

nascar has long since stopped post-race at track engine inspections; it now takes all engines back to charlotte. if all the engine hp numbers are within 10 horsepower, let's see 'em. i dont buy that, unless you give it to me in black and white. nascar has way too much secrecy here....all team members? where do you get this?

engine H.P

Yes i know that nascar takes all engines to be torn down and inspected to charlotte. 1 or 2 team reps (engine guys from the teams) are present during the dyno session and teardown of each engine. after all the H.P. numbers are collected, a chart is made and sent to all the team owners that were involved (usually takes a week or less). when you sit there and watch your own engine dyno'ed, you see the numbers on the screen, and then on the graph nascar sends to you. simple stuff...
for example you can compare the 83 toyota against the 16 ford and so on.
Now as far as the media getting these numbers, well im not sure i would want that. some of these "bigtime" nascar drivers dont need any fuel added to their fire...besides, usually the team with the most power aint always winning, look at B.Elliots win at the brickyard, over 60 H.P. down from anyone in the top 5 that day...and that was on your nascar chassis dyno.

ah, yes....good work, dude.

ah, yes....good work, dude. gives me something else to snoop around about this weekend....say, uh, you couldn't snake a copy of some of those runs and leave it under that big rock at the far end of the Loudon garage, could you?

I just checked with engine

I just checked with engine builders in the garage and they say that is not the case. I'm filing another story on the issue right now with more details. thanks for the punch. I'm doing more homework. Now new update filed in Mike's Take.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com