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Fuel injection issues plague Penske duo at LVMS

March 12, 2012, Jill Erwin, NASCAR.com

Brad Keselowski was in the top five when the fuel injection on the No. 2 stopped working on Lap 250. (Autostock)

LAS VEGAS -- Allmendinger, Keselowski lose good runs with fuel pressure problems

Secret or not, Brad Keselowski and the rest of his team have learned their lesson from last year's comments about the electronic fuel injection system and want no more fines from NASCAR. So the outspoken driver bit his proverbial tongue on Twitter Sunday afternoon after leaving Las Vegas Motor Speedway very disappointed with his 32nd-place finish.

For the second consecutive week, Keselowski had some fuel pickup issues, and this time it hurt him much worse than it did in a fifth-place run at Phoenix. After Landon Cassill blew his engine on Lap 246, Keselowski couldn't get going on the restart and was well off the pace as cars passed him on both sides. After the race, Keselowski said there was still fuel in the gas tank, meaning it was an issue with the fuel system.

"You can't race for a championship this way. ... You keep putting Brad in position, he's doing his job, and we're letting him down on the other end."

--PAUL WOLFE

On Twitter after the race, Keselowski's spotter, Joey Meier, wrote, "No comment....My lips are sealed......No fine in future...." Keselowski later re-tweeted it and added a "Ditto."

"We had a pretty decent Dodge Charger all day, probably not as good as Tony [Stewart]'s but really strong," Keselowski said in the garage. "We were going to give him a run for his money and I was going to drive my butt off. It just wasn't meant to be."

Keselowski, however, wasn't the only Penske driver affected. AJ Allmendinger in the No. 22 had his troubles much earlier, but they continued throughout en route to a 37th-place finish.

According to the team's Twitter feed, the fuel pressure issue first showed up on Lap 149. The team spent several laps in the garage about 40 laps later, first trying to replace one part, and then later swapping out the whole electronic fuel injection system.

"We changed a lot of things to go to this EFI system," said Todd Gordon, Allmendinger's crew chief. "Obviously we all tried to do our due diligence in testing everything, but you can't simulate a race track time: the vibrations, the heat and the cycles. It's tough to just put all the pieces for the same parts and make durability runs on 'em.

"I kind of knew this was going to bite a few people. We were hoping it wouldn't bite us, but it's the learning curve of the new pieces."

Allmendinger finished nearly 30 laps behind the leaders despite leading a lap earlier in the race. Multiple trips to the garage for the same issue were a huge problem, and despite having a fast car, Allmendinger could never make anything of his day.

"Man, this is not the start to the season any of us were expecting," he said. "I'm struggling to figure out what to say because I'm feeling so many things right now.

"Just when I knew we could make something solid, we started having fuel pressure issues. It was sporadic. Then it just went away. We came into the garage and changed some things and went back out, but the same thing happened. My guys busted their butts changing everything related to fuel pressure we could and went back out to salvage what was left."

On the other side of the garage, Keselowski's crew chief said the impetus is on the team to figure out the problem in the fastest possible way. The worry within the team to get it fixed before any more good runs go to waste is obviously climbing.

"We've just got to figure out these problems we're having with the pumps," crew chief Paul Wolfe said. "You can't race for a championship this way; we're just going to have to go to work and figure it out. You keep putting Brad in position, he's doing his job, and we're letting him down on the other end there.

"We've had what appears to be the same issue two weeks in a row now. Luckily it didn't bite us and we were able to finish the race at Phoenix, but there was an issue there. And then with both cars having an issue [Sunday], there's something going on. We're going to have to figure it out."

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