Several engine failures which were out of the control of the team forced elimination of two ThorSport drivers, including the regular season champion
Las Vegas Motor Speedway saw engine issues for the NT1 engine. The September 13th race saw failures across the board. Four engines blew during the race and ThorSport Racing lost two of those.
NASCAR visited the ThorSport shop in Ohio after the race. They found more issues on the engines that finished the event.
That led NASCAR to recall all 32 engines in the race. They were brought to the NASCAR R&D Center. An employee from each race team was invited as official tore down all engines from the event to conduct an investigation.
Illmor Engineering claimed responsibility for the various failures and issues. They also noted weather conditions as a contributing factor.
ThorSport Racing had two of their trucks fall out of the NASCAR Playoffs as a result. That included Grant Enfinger in addition to the regular season champion of Johnny Sauter.
The NT1 engine isn’t a requirement to be used. However, NASCAR placed additional rules on custom built house engines. That restriction means that the cheaper NT1 engine is actually more powerful.
In 2019, nearly every truck in the field is using the NT1 engine.
“People keep bringing up that we choose to run them,” David Pepper of ThorSport Racing said of the NT1 engine.
“Well, not exactly. That’s not entirely accurate. We are presented the NASCAR Ilmor motor and it is the motor of preference because the rules have been changed several times to impede the built motor.
“You cannot be competitive and win with that built motor (from a source other than Ilmor). They’ve cut RPM. We’ve changed the gear rule.”
“I want to make sure that everybody understands there are reasons why we are forced into running that. It’s not by coincidence that everyone ran the Ilmor but one or two trucks (at Vegas).”
Pepper likes the idea of more than one engine manufacture.
“If we chose one and it blew up, then that is on us because we’re controlling our own destiny,” Pepper said.
“We want to be able to control our own destiny. Our outcome of our season and our races should be a product of what we choose to run, not what we have to run because of just the way things are.”
ThorSport Racing requests to be put back into the Playoffs
On September 27th, ThorSport Racing sent a letter to NASCAR. They requested that the sanction make an exception and place them back into the next round of the Playoffs.
David Pepper noted a section of the rule book which may allow for a reinstatement situation…
Section 1.6.b: “On occasion, circumstances will be presented that are either unforeseen or are otherwise extraordinary, in which strict application of the NASCAR Rules may not achieve this goal. In such rare circumstances, the NASCAR Officials, as a practical matter, may make a determination regarding the conduct of an Event, the eligibility of a Competitor, or similar matters that are not contemplated by or are inconsistent with the NASCAR Rules, in order to achieve this goal.”
David Pepper on Playoff reinstatement
“We feel the right thing for us is we were never allowed to race at Vegas for the playoff positions,” David Pepper, general manager of ThorSport Racing, told NBC Sports on Sept. 27.
“We’re not asking to reset Vegas. We’ll take our last-place finishes. We’re just asking to move the cutoff date to Phoenix, eliminate four of us instead of two (after Vegas) and two (after Phoenix.)”
“Allow it to be settled on the race track and not by an outside source that has openly said, ‘Hey, we made a mistake.’ I don’t want to beat on them. They made a mistake, but we shouldn’t be the victims of the mistake.”
NASCAR denies the request
Initially, NASCAR didn’t comment on the proposal. They stated that they were focused on the race weekend at The ROVAL.
Post-ROVAL, NASCAR has officials denied the request by ThorSport Racing.
The next round of the NASCAR Truck Series playoffs is set to begin on October 12th at Talladega Superspeedway. Brett Moffitt, Austin Hill, Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum are the remaining trucks in a fight for the championship.
Of the four ThorSport Racing machines, Matt Crafton is the sole remaining truck in the fight.