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Duo victorious at Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown

CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 12, 2008)—The Chevrolet R07 engine roared. The crowd cheered. And the hearts of two contestants raced in anticipation.

Jeff Krogmann and Kevin Webber had been in the finals of the Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown before. They both knew what it felt like to lose on the big stage. But on Wednesday at Hendrick Motorsports, they built and fired up their engine in 26 minutes and 5 seconds—10 seconds faster than the competition of Chris Ranes and Scott Vester.

Krogmann, a service technician at Superior Toyota of Kansas City, Kan., and Webber, a Hendrick Motorsports engine assembler, were declared the winners after their motor ran the required minute and passed a post-event inspection. Their official time was 27:05, which beat the 27:15 posted by Ranes, also a service technician at Superior Toyota of Kansas City, and Vester, a dyno operator for Hendrick Motorsports.

“You work so hard to win one of these,” said Krogmann, who has competed in the contest since its inception in 2001. “This is really special. (Ranes) and I will have this rivalry for a year now.”

Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and founder of Hendrick Automotive Group (HAG), started the event as a way to recognize the engineers on his race team and in his dealerships.  He got the idea from watching a NASCAR engine building competition that his museum hosted in 2000, and he held his first event one year later. Since then, 24 engineers—12 from Hendrick Motorsports and 12 from HAG—are paired up on 12 teams for the annual competition.

The event, which is sponsored by MAHLE Clevite and held in honor of the late Randy Dorton, is unique among the automotive industry. The two-day competition bridges the gap between the engineers on the race team and the service technicians in the HAG dealerships.

“There is a lot of mutual respect between the two,” said Wayne Simpson, director of Fixed Operations for HAG.

There also is a sense of brotherhood. Webber, who has competed for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR engine building competitions, kept Krogmann’s history in mind while building the engine.

“He has been here for all seven competitions, but has never won the big prize,” Webber said. “I really wanted to help him win this year, and I knew there were a lot of HAG guys pulling for him in the audience. It felt really, really good to help him win the championship round.”

This isn’t the first time that Krogmann finished first. But it is the first time he has been on a winning team. He said his team’s 2003 winning effort was nullified because he left some bolts loose. That miscue further motivated his pursuit of perfection, and during his freetime this year, Krogmann would practice rebuilding the new Chevy R07 engine. He admitted the new engine is a little tougher than the old one.

“There are a lot more bolts and some pretty hard areas to get to,” Krogmann said.

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