HAMPTON, Ga. -- Several more Nextel Cup teams that ran in the Pep Boys Auto 500 found evidence of water contamination in their fuel systems after examinations requested by NASCAR.
Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said Monday he did not know an exact number, but said the problem was spread among several teams that participated in Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, likely ruling out sabotage.
"There are already way too many teams involved to believe this was something done to teams someone just didn't like," Darby said.
It appears instead, he said, the problem lies somewhere between underground tanks where fuel is stored and the pumps where the Sunoco fuel is dispensed.
Darby said NASCAR and Sunoco believe the problem is an isolated incident.
Denny Hamlin'sengine balked as he tried to lead the field to a restart with three laps left in the race. Traffic stacked up behind Hamlin and several cars wrecked, including Martin Truex Jr.'s Chevrolet, which piled into the rear of Hamlin's car.
Hamlin said afterward his team had found water in its fuel. So did Dave Blaney'steam at Bill Davis Racing.
NASCAR asked teams to look through their fuel cells and fuel filters, areas where contaminants would most likely settle, as they went through postrace teardowns.
Darby said race-winner Jimmie Johnson's team was among those that reported some contamination, but in small enough levels that the cars' performance would not have been impacted.
The Truck Series also ran at Atlanta over the weekend, and teams in that series had been asked to make the same checks.
Darby said it was curious that the water found in the systems was not clear, but contained a brownish tint. He said samples were being sent to labs to find out whether rust, clay or some other factor caused this discoloration, and said that finding could help pinpoint the source.
Teams participating in the first day of a two-day car of tomorrow test at Atlanta on Monday were using fuel from the same pumps that had been used this weekend, apparently without problem.
The in-ground fuel storage tanks have monitoring systems that check for water contamination. Darby said Sunoco also tests those tanks during an event and also tests samples of fuel taken from the pumps for water and other contamination. Those tests were normal all week, he said.
Kyle Busch recorded the fastest speed at Monday's test at 186.190 mph in the morning sessions. He was driving a No. 18 Chevrolet for the Joe Gibbs Racing team he'll drive for next year. Danny Hamlin, also in a Gibbs car, ran 185.822 mph and David Reutimann, in a Toyota, ran 185.430 mph. Greg Biffle'sFord topped the afternoon session at 185.158 mph. Hamlin was second fastest in the afternoon, with Busch third.
Darby said he doesn't expect major changes in the car of tomorrow until after it has raced at each track where Nextel Cup races are held. The new car will be run on intermediate-style tracks like Atlanta and Lowe's Motor Speedway for the first time next year.
NASCAR officials said this weekend that a chassis including many of the car of tomorrow's safety features could be in the Nationwide Series in 2009. The car would have different body styles from the Cup Series.
Jeff Wyler and Michael Gaughan will combine their Truck Series operations into Wyler-Gaughan Racing, which will be based in the Charlotte area and will field two full-time Truck Series teams and a part-time Sprint Cup team in 2008. Brendan Gaughan will drive the No. 77 Toyota trucks, while the driver of the No. 60 trucks will be announced later. Gaughan will drive in at least six Cup races.