Showdown: Spec engines find success

NEW "SPEC" RACING ENGINES FIND SUCCESS IN NASCAR TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN Victory Validates Cost-saving Engine Program for NASCAR Short Track Racers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2006) -- In a race that rewarded Matt Kobyluck with the largest...


Victory Validates Cost-saving Engine Program for NASCAR Short Track Racers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2006) -- In a race that rewarded Matt Kobyluck with the largest single-race payout of his career, new lower-cost technology helped drive him to victory.

Kobyluck's triumph in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Saturday night at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway was the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series driver's biggest win to date -- and a symbolic victory for the new spec engine introduced by NASCAR this season.

Kobyluck, of Uncasville, Conn., drive to the $30,000 Showdown win while using one of the new spec engines, introduced as a cost-saving measure this year and used by 11 of 30 Grand National drivers in the Toyota All-Star Showdown. Led by Kobyluck, spec engine-powered cars took four of the top-10 positions in the race.

The spec engines are approximately half the cost of traditional-built engines, yet provide competitive power, acceleration and durability. Kobyluck says the motor was a key to victory in the 150-lap all-star race, which featured the top 15 drivers from both the Busch East Series and its West Coast counterpart -- the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series.

"To race in the Grand National Division and pull off a victory in a place like this -- it definitely stands out as probably the top win I've ever had," said Kobyluck. "I kept [the engine RPMs] wound up on the high side [of the race track]. That thing pulled down the straightaway, just like people have read about. The thing was flawless. I loved it."

Winning the prestigious all-star event certainly gained Kobyluck's favor, but the spec engine has performed well since it was first introduced as an option earlier this year.

New Hampshire's Sean Caisse, who finished second in the Toyota All-Star Showdown, was the first driver to use the spec engine in competition. In August, Caisse won the Busch Pole at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl while setting a new track qualifying record at 91.216 mph. (Caisse did not use a spec engine in the Toyota All-Star Showdown.) A few weeks after Caisse's pole position, Mexico's Ruben Pardo won the Busch East Series season finale on the Lime Rock Park road course, in Lakeville, Conn., with a spec engine in his car.

At Irwindale, where wide racing grooves encourage close racing at the state-of-the-art, half-mile short track, Kobyluck said the motor allowed him to accelerate smoothly against his competition. Kobyluck led Saturday's race on three occasions, for a total of 59 laps.

"You can't say that it was an advantage, but I won the race so I guess it was," said Kobyluck. "It really fits my driving style well. The transition in the throttle is really smooth all the way up through [the RPM range]. It reminds of back in my Late Model days, where you had a real beefed-up carburetor and you could really get after the motor and use everything you had. That's what [the spec engine] does and it really fits my driving style well. We've been able to make it work the way we wanted."


1. Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn.
5. Brian Ickler, Poway, Calif.
7. Peyton Sellers, Danville, Va.
8. Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
11. John Freeman, Huntersville, N.C.
17. Dion Ciccarelli, Severn, Md.
22. Jeff Anton, Russell, Mass.
28. Bryon Chew, Mattituck, N.Y.
29. Justin Lofton, Westmorland, Calif.

(Note: two drivers -- Ruben Pardo and Eric Hardin -- used the spec engines during the Showdown's preliminary qualifying races on Friday. Both drivers were involved in accidents on Friday and switched to back-up cars with traditional engines on Saturday.)


What is it? NASCAR has introduced a spec engine as an option for teams in the NASCAR Grand National Division, which includes the AutoZone West Series and Busch East Series. The engine includes a precisely-specified set of parts and components, designed for performance and durability while reducing costs. The spec engine package costs approximately half the price of most traditional custom-built engines. Teams may use either engine in the NASCAR Grand National Division.

Why has NASCAR introduced a spec engine? The spec engine is one part of NASCAR's overall effort to reduce the cost of racing in the Grand National Division. Teams also have the option of installing a one-piece, molded composite body on their cars, which costs significantly less than a custom-mounted steel body and needs fewer repairs.

Where do the engines come from? The initial engine package was designed by Wisconsin-based engine builder Carl Wegner. Teams can now order complete engines or unassembled engine kits from Provident Auto Supply, a performance parts distributor owned by former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief and former NASCAR Vice President Gary Nelson. Unlike a "crate" engine, which comes sealed from the factory, teams may purchase a spec engine kit and assemble it on their own or with their current engine builder.

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Matt Kobyluck , Jeff Anton , Peyton Sellers , Justin Lofton , Sean Caisse , Rubén Pardo , Brian Ickler , Bryon Chew