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Getting to know Matt Fernandez, chassis builder

CONCORD, N.C. (March 12, 2010) – Matt Fernandez is one of the few employees at Hendrick Motorsports who touches every single NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolet that the organization produces. Meet Matt:

Full Name: Matthew Fernandez

Hometown: Tucson, Ariz. Moved to N.C. in May of 1989.

Education: Graduated from Central Cabarrus High School in 1997 and also attended Rowan-Cabarrus Community College taking the Motorsports Management Program.

Team/Job duties: Chassis Builder. I mainly build the center section and rear clips for the Chevrolets we make. The center section consists of the main frame rails. This is the very beginning of the chassis building process.

Time at current job: Been building chassis for three-and-a-half years at Hendrick Motorsports. Before Hendrick, I was working at Wood Bros. Racing.

Years in racing: Been in racing since 1996, since I was a junior in high school.

First racing job: I volunteered at Sabco Racing in 1996. I used to go clean the shop and try and learn as much as I could.

First job overall: Food Lion

On getting into racing: My Dad took my brother and I to the all-star race a few days after we had moved to N.C. (in 1989). I have been hooked ever since. I knew it was always something I wanted to be involved in.

Oh how he first got involved: I got a lot of experience building Legend Cars when I was 19. I learned how to weld and put chassis together.

On arriving at Hendrick Motorsports: I have applied here every year for 10 years. When I first tried, I was told to learn how to weld, so I went out and learned. But every year, I was back at Hendrick. I just kept working on my experience until the door opened.

On his role building cars at Hendrick: I’m a very lucky person to be in the position I am. It makes me proud to see our cars cross the finish line first.

On which type of cars he prefers to build: Any of them

If I wasn’t in racing, I would be: Miserable

On the number of chassis he’s built: When I started at Hendrick, Chassis No. 400 was the first one I helped work on, and we’re now almost to 600.

On working with NASCAR’s new car: Tolerances are tighter; there is less margin for error when building them.

Favorite track: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Always exciting.

Hobbies outside of racing: Spending time with my family, home improvement projects.

Favorite sport other than racing: College Football

Favorite Movie: “Saving Private Ryan,” all “Karate Kid” movies

Favorite publication: Any car magazine

Favorite Music: I like anything but rap.

Dream Car: BMW M3

If I could meet anyone, I’d meet: Jessica Biel

Favorite Food: Chicken Wings

If I ran NASCAR, I’d: Run more races on Saturday.

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