Mark Martin to the 11 – screw you MWR?

Mark Martin will be subbing for Denny Hamlin in the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

He was not scheduled to be in the MWR #55 car at Martinsville, but he was supposed to be in the #55 in the following three events at Texas, Kansas, and Richmond.

Does this mean more seat time for Brian Vickers? More for Michael Waltrip? It’s like a semi-silly season already.

UPDATE: This probably explains it a bit better:

MWR, according to sources, would like to keep Vickers in the 55 for as much as possible because he is the likely replacement for Martin next season.

TRD Engines?

“TRD working to 24/7 to resolve engine issues” is the headline on nascar.com.

At first glance, it may look like a Joe Gibbs Racing problem rather than Toyota as a whole, as JGR drivers are the ones who have had visible engine problems.

Matt Kenseth had an engine blow up while leading the Daytona 500, and at Phoenix, Denny Hamlin had an engine that had a fatal valve problem only 61 laps into it’s life. Kyle Busch had human error destroy his engine:

In effort to improve reliability, Wilson said the springs in TRD engines are changed the night before a race. One of those was replaced incorrectly in Busch’s Phoenix engine, which cause something to snap in the drive train when it was restarted on Sunday morning.

Oops.

However, some Michael Waltrip Racing cars also saw similar valve train issues at Daytona. These did not prove fatal to the engines during the race, however, so they flew under the radar.

But either way, the JGR drivers are frustrated. Denny Hamlin said it best:

After learning that Busch also had to change engines at Phoenix, Hamlin tweeted a succinct message Sunday: “Sigh … Unreal.”

Phoenix raceday update

Roof cams are gone for 2/3rds of the season, starting at Phoenix! An article on nascar.com (shudder) says that removing roof cams will reduce turbulence in the pack, and thus reduce the advantage of clean air. The following quote tends to counter the argument that removing roof cams was beneficial to cars in traffic, but I guess we should assume that John Darby meant the opposite of what he actually said:

“It’s not just about having them all the same, it’s removing stuff like that that gives the leader even more benefit than he used to have.”

Full article here.

In other news, earlier this week on the track schmak podcast, we made picks for Phoenix, so how did they fare?

Rob picked Mark Martin, who is a master of Phoenix, having won poles and races over the years.
He is again on the pole for this race.

My pick, Danica Patrick, is most famous for getting wrecked by Jeff burton and laying down oil
all over the track last year. This year, she “got loose” in qualifying and will start 40th. Her other rookie of the year competition, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., qualified in 12th.

But I have hope. Mark Martin could blow an engine. Or get between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.