Blown Engine Ends John Salemi's Lime Rock Race Early Lime Rock, Conn. (August 18, 2007) - John Salemi struggled throughout the weekend at Lime Rock Park, site of Saturday's NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series event, trying to get...
Blown Engine Ends John Salemi's Lime Rock Race Early
Lime Rock, Conn. (August 18, 2007) - John Salemi struggled throughout the weekend at Lime Rock Park, site of Saturday's NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series event, trying to get his No. 63 Chevrolet's engine up to speed. The engine woes continued into the race until it failed completely, leaving Salemi stranded on course and ending his race with a 24th place finish.
From the time Salemi unloaded his car from the trailer, The engine was not up to speed. While the crew chased that problem in practice, Salemi and Dale Quarterley worked on the chassis to get the car to handle around the 1.53-mile road course. Under the hood, the team swapped out the spark plugs and the carburetor, but nothing seemed to help.
Even with the engine not up to full song, Salemi ran in the top twenty in both practice and qualifying, and started the race nineteenth. Since this was an impound race, NASCAR would not let the team change carburetors again even though the team was willing to give up its starting position and take the green from the end of the field.
Under the race's first yellow, Salemi brought the car to pit road for the carburetor change. The swap cost Salemi a lap on the track, and after he spent the middle part of the race getting in position to get his lap back, he was successful when caution flew on lap 42. Restarting in nineteenth, Salemi ran as high as fourteenth until the engine blew heading into the first turn. There was a brief fire under the hood as he rolled to a stop and Salemi got out of the car in a hurry. He was done for the day.
"We couldn't find what was making the motor run bad so we were going to use this race as a test," he said after the race. "But even running on seven or even six cylinders the whole time, we were competitive. We came in and changed the carburetor, lost a lap because of that, but we got the lap back. We started moving forward, but it just went on me going into turn one.
"We had a great setup on the car," Salemi continued. "We know we had a top-ten car today, even with it running like junk. I was running it hard, giving it all she had, and we wore out the rubber bushings in the truck arms and in the front end. I couldn't downshift in the first turn because the rear end would wheel hop. It's hard going into turn one when you want to grab two downshifts and you can't."
With the engine expired, Salemi realized that what was causing it to run so badly was deeper inside than a carburetor change could fix.
"I think the whole time it was a valve spring hanging up or something like that," he said. "We just sent the heads out and had them redone, so we'll have to make some phone calls on Monday to see what we're going to do. There's no reason that the motor should go after you do something to make it better. It's not like I'm doing it in my garage, we're sending it to the people who make the motor in the first place. It ran fine until we put the heads on."
For Salemi, the engine failure was disappointing on a couple different fronts. He was featuring a new sponsor - Cell-nique - and running his only spec engine.
"We had Cell-nique here, and it was disappointing that we couldn't give them a better show. They were happy, but I'd have rather given them a good finish. This is the third in a row where we didn't have a good finish despite the fact that we were running pretty well. Instead of jumping up in the points, we're going to fall back. It's disappointing, but you just have to keep going," he said. "That was our only spec motor, so I'm going to take the steel motor that's in the back-up car and put it in this to run it at Ohio. Hopefully we can get the spec motor fixed before we go to Loudon, because you need that power there."