Hendrick Motorsports

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Turn Around Time

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens to a car when it arrives back in the team shop after a weekend at the track?

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams utilize between 15-20 cars per season for competition. With that many cars and 38 events per year, turn around time, or the time it takes to get a raced car ready to hit the track again, is crucial to a successful operation.

All Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets are not built alike. The car a team takes to race each weekend depends on the shape, distance and banking of the particular track.

For instance, a Chevrolet used at Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway will have a completely different set up and body design than one used for intermediate tracks such as Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. When building short track cars, crews focus their attention on handling and braking, while downforce, horse power and aerodynamics are the name of the game at intermediate tracks.

When one of the team’s car arrives back from a race, the first task is to disassemble the race machine. The car is placed in a designated area of the shop equipped with special lighting and is thoroughly inspected from bumper to bumper.

The engine is returned to the engine shop for a thorough examination of the pistons, valve train, and carburetor. From there the power plant is cleaned and placed back into the engine build cycle where it will eventually make its way back into another Hendrick car. The body of the car is also evaluated. Damaged sheet metal is removed and later replaced. The car body will be sent to the fabrication shop for further work such as rehanging front and rear fenders and nose and tail pieces.

If the car has been involved in a major wreck during the previous weekend the roll cage will be taken to the Chassis shop for repairs. Many times, severe accidents require the Chassis shop to replace the entire body of the car, which may take several days.

Once the entire tear down process is completed, the rebuilding will begin. A new engine is installed, new shocks, brakes, transmissions, interior work completed and a fresh coat of paint and decals will be applied.

The amount of time required for a car to be race ready again varies. If the crew chief and driver liked how the car handled and performed, it may be rebuilt as fast as possible.

At Hendrick Motorsports, teams will try and stay two to three weeks ahead of schedule, so when the race transporter arrives back to the shop on Sunday night or Monday morning, next week’s primary and back up cars are ready to be loaded on by Tuesday or Wednesday.

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