Powertrain Issues Sideline Larson Mid-Race at Watkins Glen International


Powertrain Issues Sideline Larson Mid-Race at Watkins Glen International

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Published in Nationwide Series News
Saturday, 10 August 2013 23:05
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Powertrain Issues Sideline Larson Mid-Race at Watkins Glen International Getty Images

Kyle Larson appeared to be poised for a solid finish at Watkins Glen International when his race unexpectedly came to a premature end. The No. 32 McDonald's Chevrolet was running inside the top 15 and on its way to the front when a powertrain problem brought Larson to a halt halfway through the race, forcing him to the garage and resulting in a 30th-place finish.


After qualifying his McDonald's Camaro 15th in the road-course style qualifying session, Larson took the green flag ready to back up the top-10 finish he earned at Road America in June. On lap 15, Larson had bettered his position by two spots, relaying to his team that his Chevrolet was a little tight in the left-hand turns. Larson was scored in the 13th position when the caution flag waved on lap 18 for a stalled car, and crew chief Trent Owens called the 21-year-old into the pits for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.


A quick pit stop put the No. 32 in the 11th spot for the lap 21 restart, and he continued to battle within the top 15 until the second caution on lap 27. Owens made the strategic call for a fuel-only pit stop. With a few competitors opting out of the fuel stop, Larson returned to the track in 18th on lap 30.


Larson was once again gaining positions when the green flag waved, and by the time the field had completed one circuit around the road course, he'd advanced to the 14th spot. However, the trend reversed five laps later, and Larson keyed the radio, "I think I'm blowing up."


The No. 32 team sprang into action, preparing to assess the motor and take necessary action. As Owens attempted to troubleshoot possible issues over the radio and determined they had likely dropped a cylinder, Larson dropped back to the 19th position. Determined to keep the No. 32 on track as long as possible, Larson continued to log laps, but on lap 41, he was no longer able to continue around the track under his own power. Coming to a stall in the esses, Larson was pushed back into the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) garage. Upon further assessment, it was determined that Larson's motor had initially dropped a cylinder, but that the transmission slipping out of gear ultimately caused the terminal engine failure. Unable to make any repairs, Larson was forced to withdraw from the race in the 30th position.


"Today was really unfortunate for the No. 32 team," said Larson after retiring from the race. "I thought our motor was blowing up for the last five or six laps there, but I was hoping that we'd be able to limp to the finish. Ultimately the rear end just gave out; I'm not sure if the problem was in the transmission the whole time, but we wound up with an engine failure. I was actually having a blast out there, it's probably the most fun I've had in a stock car in a while. We were pretty fast and we were definitely top-10 capable; we were even better than we were in Road America. Unfortunately this is just some bad luck for us. We've been running really consistently and making up a lot of points in the last couple months, and we're going to have to work hard to make up what we lost today. This is the first time I've ever experienced a failure like this with Turner Scott Motorsports, so it shows just how good our equipment is and how hard our team works. I'm sure we're going to dissect the problem once we get back to the shop so we won't have anything like this happen again."


Larson's 30th-place finish drops him two spots to eighth in the NNS Driver Point Standings. The next stop for the series is the third and final road course of the season, the inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The event air lives on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. EDT.


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Steven B. Wilson

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