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Duo wins Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown with record time

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 26, 2009) – Matt Pennell and Scott Vester built their Chevrolet R07 engine in record time to win the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown at Hendrick Motorsports on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The duo assembled and fired their engine in 22 minutes and 57 seconds, shattering the 2008 championship time of 27:05. This is the second year the R07 has been used in the two-day competition.

Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group (HAG), started the event eight years ago as a way to recognize the engineers on his race team and in his car dealerships. He got the idea from watching a NASCAR engine building competition that Hendrick Motorsports hosted in 2000, and he held his first event one year later.

Since then, 24 individuals—12 engineers from Hendrick Motorsports and 12 technicians from HAG—are paired up on 12 teams for the annual event, which is held in honor of the late engine builder Randy Dorton and sponsored by MAHLE-Clevite. The top 12 HAG technicians are chosen based upon becoming a Hendrick Master Certified technician and scoring the highest grades on an annual Automotive Service Excellence exam.

“I’m sure Jeff Andrews (Hendrick Motorsports’ director of engine operations) has a place to hide those motors because I’ll probably put them in something if he leaves them sitting around,” Hendrick joked. “These two companies are super special, and it’s because of the people. Congratulations to everybody who participated. I hope you all had a good time.”

On Tuesday, Pennell, an event rookie from Hendrick BMW in Charlotte, was matched with Vester, a Hendrick Motorsports dyno engineer and two-time Showdown winner (2006 and 2007). Pennell and Vester worked through early communication issues and an improperly attached flywheel to post the fastest time (25:49) in their first build and advance to the championship round.

In the finals, Pennell and Vester faced off against Allen Gates of Darrell Waltrip Honda Volvo Subaru (Franklin, Tenn.) and Jason Ingle of Hendrick Motorsports. Gates, who won the event in 2005, and Ingle advanced to the championship matchup by scoring the second-lowest build time (26:15) during the preliminary round.

The two teams raced to build their engines on Wednesday afternoon in front of a crowd of almost 200 supporters. Pennell and Vester fired their engine roughly two minutes before Gates and Ingle.

“It’s exciting,” a smiling Pennell said afterward, trophy in hand. “What else can you say?”

“You don’t have to be the best guys out here to win,” added Vester, now a three-time champion. “It’s how well you mesh together and communicate. If you do that better than anybody else, you win.”

The winners and their guests receive suite tickets and hot passes for the May 30, 2010, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The winning service technician also can invite his service manager and a guest to accompany him.

“It was an honor for us to have this here,” Andrews said. “This year we had an all-time high in terms of enthusiasm, participation level and having all the dealership general managers here from across the country. It’s an honor to represent these groups each weekend at the racetrack.”

2009 Engine Builder Showdown times

First build:
Jeff Krogmann/Superior Toyota and Jared Morris/Hendrick Motorsports 34:33
Jeff Heinz/Hendrick Chevrolet and Kevin Moler/Hendrick Motorsports 29:34

Second build:
William Heimel/Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth, Ga., and Jay Wiles/Hendrick Motorsports 28:59
Robert Marock/Honda of Concord and Sam Vernatter/Hendrick Motorsports 28:07

Third build:
Jerry Hilson/Hendrick Lexus and Bruce Stauffer/Hendrick Motorsports 33:25
Bart Peterson/Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth, Ga., and Mike Maiwald/Hendrick Motorsports 26:48

Fourth build:
Scot Hubbard/Lexus of Pleasanton and Tom Karas/Hendrick Motorsports 28:39
Gary Stevens/Colonial Chevrolet and Danny Emerick/Hendrick Motorsports 28:20

Fifth build:
Matt Pennell/Hendrick BMW and Scott Vester/Hendrick Motorsports 25:49
Tanner Andren/Hendrick Porsche and Shane Parsnow/Hendrick Motorsports 31:02

Sixth build:
Allen Gates/Darrell Waltrip Honda Volvo Subaru and Jason Ingle/Hendrick Motorsports 26:15
Brian Skiba/Toyota of Concord and Earl Wheeler/Hendrick Motorsports 30:09

Championship build:
Pennell/Vester 22:57
Gates/Ingle 28:30