Elmer Javier, a Master Certified Technician from Hendrick Honda in Charleston, South Carolina, teamed with Van Nguyen of Hendrick Motorsports to assemble the 358ci Chevy R07.2 engine in a winning time of 21 minutes, 48 seconds. Earlier in qualifying the duo assembled their engine in 21:40, which set a new record for the fuel-injected engines. When the competition featured earlier earlier generation race engines that were carbureted, assembly time was around 17 minutes — an indication that NASCAR engines are getting more complicated. The first time fuel-injected engines were used in competition, winning time was 27:46.
Taking second in the competition were Dan Ryan of Gwinnett Place Honda in Duluth, Georgia, who teamed with Scott Vester of Hendrick Motorsports to assemble their engine in 22:53. That was quicker than last year’s winning time of 24:38.
“I’m so honored to be here,” says Javier, a first-time Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown competitor. “Just having the opportunity to meet with Van prior to the first build; understanding what our strategy and shared responsibilities were going in was important. We both really wanted to win, as I’ve been trying to get into this event since 2008.”
The showdown pairs 12 master technicians from the Hendrick Automotive Group — which encompasses 94 dealerships around the country — with 12 members of the Hendrick Motorsports engine department. Qualifying rounds are held over two days at the Hendrick Motorsports facilities in Concord, North Carolina. Teams with two best qualifying times then go head-to-head in the final. Teams can be penalized for errors, such as loose bolts.
“This is huge. We really wanted to win, and I can’t describe what a great feeling it is,” adds Nguyen, who joined Hendrick in 2012 and was on the runnerup team last year. “It’s awesome because you’re competing against the best engine assemblers at Hendrick Motorsports and the best service technicians at Hendrick Automotive Group. I had spent the last two weeks practicing, learning new strategies. Elmer was a great partner. We were strategizing and planning as soon as we met.”
Although the competition has been staged for 13 years, it was renamed a few years ago to honor Randy Dorton, the chief engine builder for Hendrick Motorsports who died in a 2004 plane crash. The engines are similar to but not exact replications of the 900-plus-horsepower versions raced in NASCAR competition. They do start with GM blocks, heads and intakes and work with most of the supporting accessories, such as the water pump and fuel system.