RPM, Penske change 5 engines

Updated: April 25, 2009, 3:09 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Five of the seven Dodge drivers in the field have switched to back-up engines for the Aaron's 499 Sunday.

Those cars will have to start at the back of the field, but it doesn't change much. None of those five drivers -- Reed Sorenson, Kasey Kahne, David Stremme, Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger -- qualified better than 35th.

The bigger concerns for all the Dodge drivers is whether the engines will make it through the 188-lap event.

The Dodge teams have suffered three blown engines. Allmendinger and Kahne had engines failures in practice Friday. Stremme blew a motor on his qualifying run Saturday.

Richard Petty Motorsports officials decided to change engines in the No. 43 of Sorenson and the No. 19 of Sadler as a precautionary measure.

Penske Racing has used a new generation Dodge engine this season in its three cars, but opted to use the old engine at the two restrictor-plate tracks -- Daytona and Talladega. The four RPM cars have used the old engine all season.

Stremme, who drives the No. 12 for Roger Penske's team, thought he had a car fast enough to win the pole before the motor failed.

"We felt the old one was better here," Stremme said. "But it's been around four or five years now and we're wearing it out. There's only so much you can do with it. The newer motor is a lot better and has more power.

"All the guys in the engine shop are working really hard. But this is what happens sometimes when you try to push it to the limits."

Sam Hornish Jr., Stremme's teammate at Penske, managed to qualify fourth in the No. 77, turning a lap at 187.953 mph around the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway oval.

Kurt Busch, who drives the No. 2 at Penske, qualified 28th at 186.518 mph.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter