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In fact, Rector revealed he did detect a change
in the engine's note before Thomas attempted
to qualify on Friday, but allowed the car to
stage anyway because he knew rain
coming Saturday and correctly thought the team
might not get another chance to make the field.
He confirmed the suspect barrel valve spool
was foreign to the car, but added that the camshaft
also was installed incorrectly in the second
engine. "That motor was going to eat itself
anyway," Rector said, fueling speculation that
the problem may not have originated at Virginia
Regardless, Thomas is convinced he was a victim
of trackside espionage.
"It's no surprise that almost
all the trailer keys in these things will work
to open each other's trailers up. That's just
the way it is; that's life," he said. "But the
other thing is, I'm a hundred-percent sure --
not maybe -- everybody can say it can't happen,
but I know for a fact, a hundred percent, that
somebody got in here and changed the spool in
that barrel valve. Not maybe; I know they did."
Thomas acknowledged that missing the race in
Virginia was a setback to his championship chase,
but pointed out the season is only three races
old and the conditions surrounding his rare
DNQ just made him more determined than ever.
"We came into here leading it, so if we get
knocked back to second or third, it's not the
end of the world. This has just made us madder.
I haven't been mad for years, and the big thing
is, we're going to come out to win now."
Security also will be stepped up in the Thomas
"You know, I hate to look at it that way, but
yeah, that's what has to happen," he said. "
That's why I want everybody to know about it.
Like I said, I know a lot of guys are going
to say it can't happen, but you know what? It
can, and it just did."
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