At no point did Garth Tander think a wheel was loose ahead of his high-speed accident early in Sunday’s Penrite Oil Sandown 500.
Tander was running fourth in David Reynolds’ #26 Penrite Mustang in the opening stint of Sunday’s race when he was sent into a high-speed sprints at the Dandenong Road esses.
The #26 Ford was pitched into the Armco barrier and out of the race, Tander pulling the car to a halt in the Turn 9 sand trap. The errant wheel clouted the #6 Monster Energy Mustang of James Moffat, plucking the rear wing off the Tickford entry.
The incident triggered the first of two Safety Cars in the race, which was won by Broc Feeney and Jamie Whincup in the #88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro.
Speaking after the crash, Tander said there were no alerts on his dash; rather, he thought there was a change in wind direction.
"It turned around the wrong way at the end of the hill," Tander said after the crash.
"I felt on the lap before that something was either bending, or something was going on in the left-rear. I was about to ask [race engineer] Al [McVean] up the back straight, because we were expecting a wind direction change, and I thought it was pulling the car around a bit.
"At no point did I think the wheel was loose. I didn't get any alarms on the dash that the tyre was going down. The little bit of surveying I did at the end [after the crash], the wheel obviously came off the car but the tyre was flat. I don't know what happened first."
On the crash itself, Tander added: "You sort of know [at the esses] that this might be large, but it wasn't too bad. I got a lot of speed out of it and it was spinning on the tarmac.
"It hit the Armco on the outside, it's done a fair bit of damage to the car. It's a shame, we had a really good car."
Penrite Racing had some joy on Sunday, with Matt Payne and Supercars debutant Kevin Estre first Ford home in sixth.
In his first Supercars race, Estre ran in the top three before handing over to Payne, who was passed late on for fifth in the final stops by Brad Jones Racing’s Andre Heimgartner.
Penrite Racing co-owner Stephen Grove praised Payne and Estre’s performance, but suggested the Tander issue was caused by a “faulty” design.
“It was good to be the top Ford team across the race. We thought it was a great effort. Kevin did a great job and so did Matt. It was really good stuff by both drivers,” Grove said.
"The issue with Tander was a faulty design on a wheel nut, so not a team or driver error. Tyre life is the real issue. The Fords just cannot make the tyre last as well as the opposition.
"But we think we’re in a pretty good place with the driver line-up and the car. So we go to Bathurst with some confidence.”