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Machinist Kevin Moler blogs about his championship engine build

Growing up in Nyack, N.Y., I dreamed about working for a race team. I got my first break managing and building engines for a kart racing team before making the move to Hendrick Motorsports where I’ve spent the last 12 years as a machinist in the engine shop. I’ve always loved the competition of racing, and one of the highlights of working with this organization is the opportunity to compete with my peers both at Hendrick Motorsports and within the Hendrick Automotive Group in the annual Randy Dorton Engine Builder Showdown.

Each year, 24 of us are paired up onto 12 teams and we go head-to-head building a Chevrolet R07 engine. The teams consist of one Hendrick Motorsports engine shop member and one Hendrick Automotive Group technician.

My teammate this year was Corey Perin who works as a technician at East Bay BMW in Pleasanton, Calif. Corey was a great partner. We seemed to click right off the bat, so communication was easy. When you’re trying to build an engine from the ground up in less than 30 minutes, communication is crucial.

Fortunately, Corey and I had even more time to work on our game plan. The competition featured six builds during the two-day contest, and our team competed in the second round. Corey and I used that time to talk strategy as we watched the first two teams compete. Going the first day also gave us time to rest before the championship build the next day. When you finish building an engine by hand, every piece is added and tightened by hand. After all that cranking, your arms can feel like noodles.

There was a slight wrench in the competition this year in the form of electronic fuel injection (EFI). In the past, we’ve built a carbureted version of the R07, this year marked the first time we built one with EFI instead.

The EFI change added a little bit of time to the process. There were a few more connections to make, a few more pieces to install and the engines didn’t fire as quickly as the carbureted version. I think that contributed to a slower build time this year. We completed the build in 27 minutes and 46 seconds, compared to the championship-winning time of 21 minutes and 30 seconds from the 2011 competition.

With my fourth engine build behind me and the championship finally under my belt, I’m excited for the rest of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. I can’t for this weekend when Hendrick Motorsport heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend, my favorite track on the circuit.

Click here for exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the engine builder event.

Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder showdown results

Build one:
Tad Merriman, Hendrick Motorsports, and Jon Wock, Hendrick Chevrolet Shawnee Mission: 35:00
Kelly Pryor, Hendrick Motorsports, and Adrian Constantinidis, City Chevrolet: 38:21

Build two:
Kevin Moler, Hendrick Motorsports, and Corey Perin, East Bay BMW/MINI: 30:24
Joe Concato, Hendrick Motorsports, and Jason Levine, Honda Cars of McKinney: 32:47

Build three:
Dewayne Black, Hendrick Motorsports, and Phil Seaton, Hendrick Toyota Merriam: 38:48
Jason Harwood, Hendrick Motorsports, and Brian Murrow, Hendrick Toyota Merriam: 38:59

Build four:
Eric Meade, Hendrick Motorsports, and William Davis, Acura of Concord: 34:58
Jereme Jackson, Hendrick Motorsports, and Ted Tsuda, Lexus of Pleasanton: 39:51

Build five:
Doug Breashears, Hendrick Motorsports, and Roger Worley, Jr., Hendrick Lexus Northlake: 40:13
Clint Rohlmeier, Hendrick Motorsports, and William Sullivan, Hendrick Toyota Scion Wilmington: 40:44

Build six:
Brian Franklin, Hendrick Motorsports, and Lee J. Cook, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet: 31:47
Dustin Heffner, Hendrick Motorsports, and Michael Sanantonio, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet of Buford: 31:58

Championship round:
Kevin Moler, Hendrick Motorsports, and Corey Perin, East Bay BMW/MINI: 27:46
Brian Franklin, Hendrick Motorsports, and Lee J. Cook, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet: 28:59

Kevin Moler


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