Indianapolis: Stuart Kirby race report

Marathon Team Suffers from Bad "Breaks" Indianapolis, IN (8/06/05) The Marathon "American Spirit" race team missed qualifying for the Indianapolis Nextel Cup race because of a one-in-a-million chance mechanical problem. During their qualifying...

Marathon Team Suffers from Bad "Breaks"

Indianapolis, IN (8/06/05) The Marathon "American Spirit" race team missed qualifying for the Indianapolis Nextel Cup race because of a one-in-a-million chance mechanical problem. During their qualifying attempt, the front brakes of the #51 Chevrolet Monte Carlo were unknowingly engaged, devastating the car's speed.

Driver Stuart Kirby noted, "The car wouldn't get up and go like it always does, so I knew something was bad wrong. After my qualifying run, when I got off the gas pulling into the pits, the car stopped almost immediately without me pressing the brakes. I had trouble even driving it to the garage."

The #51 team's engineer Walter Giles said in disbelief, "It's been probably 16 years since I've seen something like that happen. Our front brakes master cylinder release valve didn't operate correctly. Apparently, when Stuart got off the brake pedal for the first time, the front brakes just stayed on. There is evidence that leaves no doubt that's what happened. We had scarred and warped front rotors, which turned blue. Even the calipers themselves expanded so much from the heat, they scored the inside of the front wheels."

Team Owner Joe Auer commented, "We were chasing some problems during practice. These problems made most of our lap times slower than our test times here at Indy two weeks ago. Now, knowing that we had a progressively worsening master cylinder function, the elusive problem made sense. 20-20 hindsight, I guess. The most promising item to note, however, is that we actually beat several good teams even with our brakes on."

A brake problem aside, the Marathon team is optimistic with the cohesion shown this past week. It was only the third race together, but the team had a flowing choreography of very effective work on the car that often doesn't happen on teams for many months----or years.

Looking forward to Michigan, Auer went on to say, "We know for a fact we have a good team and fast cars. We tested well, and on the chassis dyno the Indy car produced more horsepower than we ever had. We spent a day at the ride height simulator, which produced great results. We worked on that car for three weeks and everything was set for a top 25 qualifying effort-no doubt! We'll take these efforts and make them pay off in two weeks. You'll see the Marathon team be successful at Michigan if the 'unusual-problem gremlins' cut us a little slack."

-www.cemotorsports.net

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Stuart Kirby