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Ilmor, NASCAR taking preventive steps after Las Vegas engine issues UPDATE: ThorSport asks to be put back in Playoffs, NASCAR denies

UPDATE: NASCAR has denied ThorSport Racing’s request to reinstate its two Gander Outdoors Truck Series teams that were eliminated at Las Vegas Motor Speedway because of a motor issue that Illmor Engineering claimed responsibility.

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UPDATE: ThorSport Racing sent a letter Friday to NASCAR requesting that series officials reinstate its two teams eliminated from the Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs because of engine issues that the manufacturer claimed responsibility for.

“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. “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.”

Asked about ThorSport Racing’s request to have its teams reinstated in the playoffs, NASCAR issued a statement Friday to NBC Sports: “NASCAR’s focus remains on this weekend’s races at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”

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ORIGINAL POST – 9/26/2019: Officials with NASCAR and Ilmor Engineering released preliminary findings Thursday from their investigation into an unusual spate of engine failures in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ Sept. 13 event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, saying that measures were being taken to improve reliability and prevent a recurrence.

“Ilmor Engineering is committed to our partnership with NASCAR and to the long-term development of the NT1 engine,” the company said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “To that end, following the issues experienced by a number of different teams and competitors during the Sept. 13 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, engines were returned to the NASCAR R&D Center for technical inspection and data review. The combination of the high engine load condition combined with the extreme weather conditions in Las Vegas resulted in some engines suffering severe detonation. Ilmor is taking new measures in engine calibration to ensure to this situation is corrected for all future races.”

Four failures of Ilmor’s NT1 engine thinned the field in the World of Westgate 200, sidelining three playoff-eligible ThorSport Racing trucks and the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports entry of Tyler Dippel. The early exits eliminated ThorSport teammates Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Ford) and Grant Enfinger (No. 98), the regular-season champion, from the playoffs while Matt Crafton (No. 88) was able to survive based on his cushion in the series’ points standings.

Brad Moran, managing director for the Gander Trucks Series, said the multiple engine failures set a rapid response in motion. NASCAR competition officials were at ThorSport’s Sandusky, Ohio race shop to collect the four damaged engines four days after the race and began teardowns in the days that followed. After seeing signs of damage in a fourth ThorSport entry — the No. 99 Ford of Ben Rhodes — that engine was also collected.

Further indicators of damage, including trouble with the GMS Racing No. 24 driven to seventh place by Brett Moffitt, prompted Ilmor to recall all 32 engines used in the Las Vegas event for disassembly and inspection.