By KFFL Staff on March 26, 2011
An engine failure is one of the most frustrating issues a fantasy racing owner has to deal with. A blown engine is a guaranteed DNF. NASCAR won't allow teams to change engines in the middle of a race, which means there is no picking up extra spots during the rest of the race like drivers do after a wreck. No, an engine failure means a driver is going to take the hard left turn into the garage where they will spend the rest of the day.
If the bad finish wasn't annoying enough to an owner, the fact that engine failures are generally unpredictable adds to the frustration. You can do your homework prior to the race, study the practice times, and set a great lineup, but if one little part fails under the hood of one of your picks, all your hard work will only yield a finish outside the top 30.
The dreaded engine gremlins have been out in full force through the first four races of 2011, and two of the top organizations in the sport have been the main victims. Earnhardt Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are losing at least one engine almost every week, and it has fantasy owners playing engine roulette whenever they select a driver from one of these teams.
The ECR engine package welcomed in the 2011 season with three failures in the season opener at Daytona. JGR driver Denny Hamlin had to change an engine prior to the Daytona 500 as well. The next weekend at Phoenix, Hamlin's teammate Joey Logano went to the garage with a problem under the hood.
Hamlin was again changing engines prior to the race at Las Vegas, and fellow JGR driver Kyle Busch had his motor blow during the race itself. McMurray's motor also ran flat that afternoon. Busch rebounded a bit by winning at Bristol, but Clint Bowyer ended up in the garage with his first failure of the year.
The problem is that both organizations are home to some of the top fantasy options in the sport. You can't just write them off because of the possibility of an engine failure. You will simply miss out on too many strong finishes if you adopt that strategy.
The situation is far from ideal, but it is a situation owners will have to learn to deal with for the time being. Both organizations have enough resources and personnel to work out the kinks during the course of the season, but that doesn't mean a whole lot for the immediate future.
Take solace in the fact that every owner has an equal chance of being bit by an engine gremlin, and cross your fingers that your picks don't go up in smoke. With the new point system penalizing poor finishes more than ever before, a run of engine failures can end a driver's Chase hopes early on and do the same for a fantasy owner's title hopes.