T.J. Reaid, driver of the No. 51 Super Late Model entry for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), certainly left his mark with a solid run in Saturday night's Champion Racing Association (CRA) U.S. Auto Sales World Series of Speed 100 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga.
Reaid, from nearby Acworth, Ga., was the fast qualifier with a lap of 16.315 seconds around the half-mile oval, drew the eighth starting spot for the 100-lap feature, and gradually made his way to the front of the field once the green flag flew.
He maintained his position in the top-10 for the first 35 laps, then began picking off car after car before finding himself in the third position when the caution flag waved on lap 75. He moved up to second on the ensuing restart behind eventual race-winner Augie Grill and dogged Grill on three restarts before he eventually crossed the finish line in second place. Reaid actually took the lead from Grill on a lap-85 restart, but series officials deemed he made his move too early and forced him to give the spot back.
The runner-up effort went all for naught, as it turned out, when the No. 51 racing machine failed post-race inspection. Series officials deemed that the motor on the KBM machine exceeded the maximum allowed compression ratio of 9.5. Thus, Reaid was placed 20th in the final standings.
“We checked the compression ratio ourselves back at the race shop, and we discovered that, in fact, we were over on the compression ratio between .1 and .2 points (9.6 to 9.7),” said Bond Suss, General Manager, Super Late Model, Kyle Busch Motorsports. “After discussing the issue with Jeff Hamner, our engine builder, it was determined an error was made in how the piston volume was calculated. It was simply an oversight and a mathematical error of the many numbers used to figure engine size and compression. Like all levels of racing, we push everything to the max with little margin for error when we discover one. This would be the equivalent of being five pounds light after the race, or 1/8-of-an-inch high or low on post-race heights. In other words, it's not a big game changer.”
Jeff Hamner, owner of Hamner Racing Engines, confirmed that an error was made at his Birmingham, Ala., shop prior to delivery.
“The bottom line is, they (CRA) have a machine called a whistler to check the compression ratio and, according to their machine, we were over the limit,” said Hamner, whose shop also builds Late Model engines for the like of NASCAR regulars Dave Blaney and Kevin Harvick. “Once I get the motor back here, I'll verify the numbers. From what we know, it looks like it was a mistake made here in our shop. It's a very small area as far as margin for error. I feel bad about it for Kyle's sake and for the Reaids' sake. I've spoken to the Reaids and reassured them that anything Kyle orders, they're absolutely firm on making sure everything is right, nothing is questionable. It's a bad situation and it's a very high-profile team and it was our fault. They knew nothing about it. Did it change the performance of the motor? I would say it did not. But the rules are rules and it's as plain and simple as that. This is the first time in my 20 years in this business that I've been involved in a disqualification due to a mechanical part built here in our shop. I hate it for everybody involved.”
Kyle Busch, KBM owner, acknowledged the calculation error on the engine used Saturday night but also reaffirmed his faith in Hamner Racing Engines.
“We are really happy with the job Jeff Hamner and Hamner Racing Engines have done for the Kyle Busch Motorsports' Late Model program the past few years,” Busch said. “We have a lot of trust in them but, unfortunately, they made a small miscalculation, which led to the engine not passing tech following the race this past weekend at Gresham Motorsports Park. Myself and everyone at KBM are very disappointed in that. We were very pleased with how T.J. ran, as well as all the races he's raced with us this year. I just want to personally apologize to T.J. and his family on behalf of everyone at KBM. We go to the racetrack every weekend with the intention of racing within the rules. We all make mistakes, and I appreciate the way Jeff has taken responsibility for the error that certainly wasn't intentional. We still have faith in Hamner Racing Engines and we hope that we put this issue behind us going forward and continue to have success with T.J. behind the wheel and with Jeff Hamner continuing to build our engines. While our infraction was unintentional, we respect CRA's decision and would like to applaud them for their strict inspection process that helps keep a level playing field for all the competitors. Going forward, we will do everything in our power to make sure this doesn't happen again, and that our equipment is not only safe, but within the rules.”
Busch will be competing himself in the next event for the CRA Super Series - Monday's Welch & Wilson Motorsports Redbud 300 at Anderson (S.C.) Speedway. He's scheduled to be joined by fellow NASCAR competitor Ken Schrader, as well as Chase Elliott, son of former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, and Ross Kenseth, son of NASCAR regular Matt Kenseth.