Michael Waltrip's Toyota impounded at Daytona

Feb 11, 2007 - 11:39 PM By Bruce Martin SportsTicker Contributing Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) - Cheating returned to the Daytona 500, with Michael Waltrip and new manufacturer Toyota calling unwanted attention to themselves.

NASCAR officials confiscated Waltrip's Toyota Camry after Sunday's qualifications. A substance was found inside the car that NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton termed "highly unusual."

A sample was sent to NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, North Carolina for testing. The intake manifold had a coating on the inside that NASCAR officials thought was mysterious.

"Our inspector caught a substance inside that we really didn't know what it was," Pemberton said.

NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said officials will conduct a detailed inspection of the car and its engine over the next two days.

Earlier, NASCAR officials took the intake manifold from Waltrip's Car during inspections prior to the three-hour time trials. Waltrip was allowed to make a qualification attempt but ceded possession of the car afterward.

"When they felt down inside of it there was some oil in the intake oil in a couple of places where it doesn't belong," Waltrip said in a TV interview with Fox. "I am sure it will be fine. I don't understand what's going on. When it's all over, we'll figure it out."

Waltrip is one of Toyota's flagship teams as the Japanese manufacturer begins its first season in Nextel Cup. It is a big blow for Waltrip's race team as it prepares for next Sunday's race.

According to Michael Waltrip Racing general manager Ty Norris, NASCAR had not told the team it had committed an infraction.

"They just don't know what it is and they want to check it out," he said. "I haven't even seen it. It's in a plastic bag. You can't be found guilty if you don't know what it is."

In 2005, Robby Gordon's crew chief was fined $50,000 and the team was docked 25 car owner points for an unapproved intake manifold found in inspections at Daytona.

Last year, Jimmie Johnson's Chevrolet Monte Carlo failed post-qualifying technical inspection. Crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended for four races, including the Daytona 500 - which Johnson won anyway.

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