A Roush Power Failure

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Immediately following the race Sunday in Atlanta that saw four of the six teams that use Roush engines fall from the race, Jack Roush summoned his team of top level engineers in Livonia, Mich. and set out for Concord, NC on a mission to search out, identify and remedy the causes that forced the cars from the race.

Roush was relieved when the engine teardown revealed that only overly aggressive engine tuning and oil starvation triggered the engine failures.

" The good news is that none of the very substantial horsepower gains that we have been making caused any of our problems. The bad news is that the tuning mistake was my own. Now I know how Rick Hendrick's engine guy felt after Talladega last fall," said Roush.

" I hurt pistons on the #6, #21,and #97 by tuning for fuel economy that just wasn't attainable for Atlanta and the #99's problem derived from a new oil pan that resulted in oil starvation," continued Roush.

"We'll increase the piston-to-cylinder wall clearance somewhat, and enrich the carburetor modestly to solve the fuel tuning problem. We've got some room in the carburetor due to our exceptional fuel mileage history. To solve the 99's oil starvation problem we'll slightly increase the oil-tank volume and perform a minor change to the new oil pan."

"So we'll be fine in the future with both of these changes."

Roush says he is very pleased with the progress made by his engine department over the past year. "Our 10 wins in 2002, including wins at horsepower tracks like Atlanta, Homestead, Charlotte and Texas, and our strong start in 2003 demonstrates the strength in our engine program."

"We've had good finishes this year and two of our drivers have led in the points," said Roush. "It would be even better, but Kurt got in an accident at Las Vegas. Also, Las Vegas was the last race that we ran with the 2002 crankshaft configuration which we had earlier discovered couldn't keep up with our horsepower gains.

"Unfortunately one of the last of the obsolete crankshafts chose to fail on Mark's car in Las Vegas. We received our supply of the updated crankshafts, which had been strengthened 30 percent in the area of Mark's failure, just in time for Atlanta.

"Definitely, the sky is not falling. Our horsepower is improved from last year and it's improving every race. So, in summation, we hurt a piston reaching for fuel economy that just wasn't attainable for Atlanta, we hurt a bearing due to an oversight in the revision of the oiling system and proved the necessity of our most recent crankshaft revision.

"It will be great to have all of that behind us, as we mount championship efforts for all of our drivers throughout the year."

"After only four races, Kurt has led the points and Matt is leading the points right now. Mark has run well in all but one race so far, Jeff Burton is in the top 10 and Greg Biffle has run respectably as well."

To back up Roush's sentiments, Matt Kenseth has one win and posted three top-five finishes in the season's first four races, and Kurt Busch not only led the points for a week, but opened the season with two consecutive top-two finishes at Daytona and Rockingham.

Furthermore, the facts do indeed back up Roush's assessments, with the group having posted one win, six top five and eight top 10 finishes before even rolling into Darlington.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003, Mark Martin

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