Dual problems for Team Penske’s Acuras with illness and oil leak

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Trouble struck twice for Team Penske’s Acura DPIs while running under yellow in a downpour with less than 6 hours remaining in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Penske’s No. 6, driven by Simon Pagenaud at the time and shared by Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron, pulled off the track with an apparent malfunctioning oil pump for repairs during a caution that had lasted for more than hour because of persistent rain that began nearly five hours earlier.

While running for nearly an hour behind the pace car with the lead, Ricky Taylor fell ill in Penske’s No. 7 Acura. Taylor pitted and turned the car over to Helio Castroneves.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. speculated that Taylor might have fallen ill because of “the pace car lights. They are extremely bright. Under these muggy conditions, they are emphasized quite a bit.

“I used to lobby NASCAR to minimize the lights at night because it was so disturbing and made you ill. Riding around in humid, muggy race car, and it’s a bad combination.”

NASCAR senior vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell confirmed the sanctioning body had made adjustments after complaints from Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson.

During his last Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona start in 2004, Earnhardt said teammate Andy Wallace also had fallen ill after riding behind the pace car for two hours and needed several hours to recover. Earnhardt and teammate Tony Stewart had to double their stints as a result.

NBCSN’s Marty Snider reported that Taylor was resting in his best after briefly visiting the care center and being checked and released.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.