Thursday, December 8, 2022

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Coca-Cola 600 Effort Derailed By Belt Issues

(PC : CGR Social)

It was a dreadful night to forget for Chip Ganassi Racing and both of their Chevrolet drivers in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Having never won the crown jewel and still searching for that first win of 2021, CGR showed strong performance in qualifying on Saturday. Both Ross Chastain and Kurt Busch were slated to roll off 10th and 11th respectively with the Chevrolet camp flexing some serious power across the board.

Driver No. 1 was forced to start at the rear thanks to unapproved adjustments, while Chastain retained his position.

As the race went green, Chastain was able to hold his position well during the opening laps of the first stage. It was at Lap 46 when Chastain made an unscheduled pit stop for an unknown issue.

Later diagnosed as a broken oil pump belt, the Florida driver took his No. 42 Camaro behind the wall for repairs. 37 laps later, he returned to the track, several laps down.

“Just really disappointing to have issues so early in the longest race of the year,” Chastain said. “Unfortunately, it just turned into a long test session for us.”

All hope landed in the lap of the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion, who was slowly, but steadily climbing his way through the field during what was mostly a caution-free race.

Just under 100 laps after Chastain pulled onto pit road for his broken belt, Busch found his way straight to the garage after reporting no oil pressure. The broadcast reported that it was an oil pump belt for Busch, the same issue that derailed the hopes for Chastain.

About 30 laps later, he returned to the track, only to cause a caution just two laps later thanks to his engine expiring.

“Not much more to say other than we are just on an extremely tough streak of bad luck,” Busch said following his retirement from the race. “The car lost power steering and I saw the oil pressure drop, not much warning of any issues. We thought we made repairs to carry on, but apparently, the damage was done and forced us out of the race early.”

Busch finished dead last of 38 cars, marking the third DNF of his 2021 season, and his first relating to an engine problem. Chastain would finish one position better, 41 laps down. Both Busch and Chastain remain outside the playoff race, sitting in 19th and 21st in driver points respectively.

The fellow Chevrolet camp of Hendrick Motorsports scored their 269th Cup win, becoming the all-time winningest Cup organization in NASCAR history.

Chip Ganassi Racing now turn their attention to the twists and turns of Sonoma Raceway. While the organization only has a single road course win, that victory came courtesy of Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007 when he drove the No. 42 Dodge for the team. That win marked the first race for what was NASCAR’s Car Of Tomorrow on a road course.

As for Busch, he too has a victory at Sonoma. His lone road course victory came In 2011, in what would be his final season with Team Penske. As for his teammate, Chastain has one start at Sonoma, coming in 2019 driving for Jay Robinson where he finished 37th.

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