DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Three blown motors during practice for the Daytona 500 have raised questions about the reliability of the engines supplied by Hendrick Motorsports.
Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart, who drive for Stewart-Haas Racing with engines provided by Hendrick, both suffered motor failures during the second round of practice Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. This followed a blown engine in the HScott Motorsports car of Bobby Labonte, which also had Hendrick power.
Immediately following Patrick's troubles, crewmen from SHR and various Hendrick teams converged on her No. 10 Chevrolet. No determination has been made whether the failures were related.
"Until we get the engines further apart to be able to more closely analyze, I really couldn't say anything more [about them being related]," said HMS director of track support Scott Maxim.
Patrick, Stewart and Labonte will have to start in the rear of the field in the Duel qualifying races to be held Thursday, as well as the Daytona 500 regardless of where they qualify Sunday.
None of the Hendrick drivers -- Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne -- had engine issues, though all four did lack speed in practice. Gordon was fastest, placing 21st in the first session.
Patrick, who was the Daytona 500 pole-sitter a year ago, had no warning but was concerned about a potential epidemic following Stewart's failure.
"It was a concern when Tony blew up, and then I did," Patrick said. "It's something we're doing in our family, and we need to figure it out. I was saying I bet other Hendrick cars are thinking, ‘What's going on?' so we have got time to hopefully figure it out. Definitely figure it out before the race."
Motor failures were not a concern for Richard Childress Racing, which is considered the favorite to win the pole for the 56th running of the Daytona 500, having covered the field in both rounds of practice.
Paul Menard paced the morning session with a top speed of 195.042 mph, with RCR drivers holding five of the top six positions overall. In the afternoon session, teammate Ryan Newman was fastest at 195.346 mph.
Daytona 500 qualifying commences Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.