Hendrick Motorsports Distressed Over Axle Issue
February 24th, 2010- By Bryan Cross
At Hendrick Motorsports, concern echoes throughout, with respect to a broken axle on Dale Earnhardt Jr’s car that caused him to finish in 32nd place at the Auto Club 500 in Fontana, California. They believe the problem is not limited to Earnahardt.
Lance McGrew, who is the crew chief for Earnhardt, stated that Jimmie Johnson, who won the race, was only a few laps from running into the same issues.
“Oh, absolutely,” McGrew remarked to ESPN.com. “I’m sweating this weekend along with Atlanta, which is historically really bad on axles. To say there’s not a stir about it would be an understatement.”
To date, the crew has been unable to come up with an answer as to the problem with the axle. The problem first came about when Mark Martin’s axle on the back-left side looked out of the ordinary.
McGrew said that all four of the Hendrick teams used replacement axles prior to the Auto Club 500.
“Ours wore out and [Johnson] barely finished the race,” McGrew remarked. “There’s no smoking gun, which is aggravating for us. But we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
McGrew stated that when Earnhardt detected something out of the ordinary, he thought it to be a flat tire. In addition to the broken axle, the drive shaft was damaged as well the team found out in pit row.
The team lost time due to the absence of a new axle, a problem that has since been corrected.
“It’s not something you normally have on your pit box,” remarked McGrew. “It’s just not. But I would have thought after people saw what happened with Brian Vickers last year at Atlanta and how they stayed on the lead lap that everybody would have had a set prepped.”
The next race on the NASCAR circuit is the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Earnhardt is among the betting favorites on NASCAR Sportsbooks, currently going off at 25/1.