Texas: Chevrolet R07 news conference, part 1

Chevrolet R07 Race Engine News Conference Samsung 500, Texas Motor Speedway April 14, 2007 The following are remarks prepared for Mark Kent, director of GM Racing, to deliver to media at the Texas Motor Speedway at the introduction of the ...

Chevrolet R07 Race Engine News Conference
Samsung 500, Texas Motor Speedway
April 14, 2007

The following are remarks prepared for Mark Kent, director of GM Racing, to deliver to media at the Texas Motor Speedway at the introduction of the Chevrolet R07 race engine. It will be a whole a new era for GM Racing and the GM small-block V-8 engine when some of our NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers take to the track with the Chevrolet R07 - our first purpose-built NASCAR racing engine EVER

This new engine is the replacement for the Chevrolet SB2 engine which was approved for competition back in 1998. SB2 has remained virtually unchanged over the past 10 years, making it the oldest engine currently competing in Nextel Cup.

The GM Racing engine development team had four key objectives in mind throughout the design and development of the Chevrolet R07 engine. We wanted to create an engine that:

1. Produces competitive power
2. Delivers excellent reliability
3. Enhances safety and
4. Reduces cost for Chevrolet teams.

In a few minutes, I'll show you some of the technical features of the R07 and how they contribute to meeting these objectives.

But first, I'd like to acknowledge NASCAR for having the vision to establish a set of key parameters that all new engines in NASCAR Nextel Cup competition must meet.

This "box", as it has been referred to, provides a range of choices on key dimensions and design features. Our job was to carefully balance the tradeoffs available within the box and make the critical decisions to enable the Chevrolet R07 to continue Chevy's success in NASCAR.

Until now, all of GM's small-block racing engines shared the same key dimensions - like cylinder-bore spacing, camshaft location and deck height - as the original small-block V-8 introduced in 1955.

That's right: 1955. So, while the production Small Block engine, which is currently in its fourth generation, has benefited greatly from technology advancements, the NASCAR racing version of the Small Block has been stuck in a 50 year time warp. That all changes today!

Not only has engine technology advanced tremendously since 1955, but so has the design and engineering technology. In the R07 program, GM Racing engineers used many of the advanced development tools that GM Powertrain engineers use to design production engines. Such as computer-aided engineering (CAE), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), finite element analysis (FEA), and solid 3D modeling.

In fact, because of tools such as these it was only 14 months from when NASCAR published the key parameter list to the time we submitted parts to them for approval. During these 14 months, our GM Racing engine team worked hand in hand with each of our key partner teams. This teamwork approach assured that the R07 components were capable of meeting the overall common objectives while maintaining some flexibility for each team to meet its individual objectives.

The result? Chevy teams now have an optimized fully up-to-date race-engine design that I guess you could say they haven't had for the last 49 years.

Per NASCAR regulations, the R07 displaces a maximum of 358 cubic inches and retains the classic two-valve pushrod design that has been the mainstay of American motorsports for more than 50 years. Also, per NASCAR regulations, GM Racing supplies the major components including the cylinder block, cylinder heads, and intake manifold. Additionally, GM Racing has also developed some critically important engineered assemblies such as the water pump, rocker covers, valley plate, and front cover.

We have been working - literally - day and night to supply our Chevrolet teams with these parts in a timely manner. Since approval last September, we have produced and shipped nearly 200 blocks and over 350 cylinder heads to our teams. That's right - 200 blocks and 350 cylinder heads.

Additionally, our distribution plan has favored no single team. We treated all of our teams equally. The #4 Car of Morgan McClure racing, for instance, received the same priority as the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion #48 car of Hendrick Motorsports.

We have left it up to each team to decide their roll-out plan. An advantage is that our teams are very pleased with the performance of the current SB2 engine. So our teams can test and begin competing with the new engine at their own pace without adversely affecting their competitiveness at all.

Now, let's get a little technical...

First, let's take a look at the block. There were several issues that our teams faced with the Chevrolet SB2's 50-year old engine block design. Most importantly, there were no provisions for piston oil squirters to cool the pistons or the ability to get coolant between the bores, both of which are critical for race durability.

As a result, teams have had to do an unbelievable amount of machining the block and fabricating bolt-on components to make the engine durable. In fact, our teams average nearly 50 hours of prep time for every single SB2 block in this "band aid" approach.

In the R07, moving the camshaft up allowed us to package piston squirters and spreading the bore centerlines gave us water passages between the bores.

Not only have these changes greatly reduced the prep time but they've also resulted in improved safety because all of the bolt-on external oil and coolant lines have been eliminated: in a crash, there are no lines to break, thus reducing the likeliness of a fire or an oiled down track.

Also, speaking of safety, we've designed two different fuel pump options, both of which significantly improve safety. One is a fuel pump at the fuel cell driven directly from the back of the camshaft by a cable. In the other option, we've moved the mounting of a cam-driven mechanical fuel pump on the front cover of the engine from the right side to the left side, where it stands less chance being knocked off in an accident,

To go along with the new block, we also did a new cylinder head. With the R07, we have incorporated a head bolt pattern that is nearly identical to that of the latest production Small Block engine. This pattern moves the head bolt out of the intake port and results in another time savings for our teams and NASCAR Inspectors as the hole in the port had to be plugged..

Also all of the oil feeds and returns, which were previously achieved by external lines, have also been cast into the head resulting in additional safety and reduced prep time.

The third major component of the R07 engine is the intake manifold. There are three versions: one for restrictor plate races, another for superspeedways and another for short tracks.

Additionally, there are numerous other components that GM Racing has developed and produced for the teams that will offer them additional time and cost savings. These components include the piston squirters, water pumps, oil distribution plates, etc.

There are numerous other features that we incorporated into the new R07 engine that we'd like to tell you about. However, in the interest of time today, we're not going to go into any more detail today.

In closing, and before we open this up for Q and A, I'd like to reiterate the four priorities in designing this engine: competitive power, excellent reliability, enhanced safety and reduced cost for our Chevrolet teams.

I think we've met those objectives.

We are very proud of the new R07 engine. There have been a lot of people at our teams and within GM that poured their heads and their hearts into bringing this engine to reality. Our development program team was faced with a multitude of tough decisions. The results will show whether we made the right choices.

What makes this business so exciting is that the evaluation starts tomorrow.

*** FOLLOWING MEDIA Q&A:

DO YOU KNOW WHICH TEAMS ARE GOING TO USE THE ENGINE THIS WEEKEND:

Jim Covey: The cars that will be using it tomorrow will be two Hendrick cars - the 5 of Kyle Busch*, the 25 of Casey Mears - all three of the Gibb cars - #11 of Denny Hamlin, the #18 of J. J. Yeley and the #20 of Tony Stewart - and also the #96 of Tony Raines, the Hall of Fame racecar as they lease their engines from Joe Gibb Racing. *Editor's note: the #5 car subsequently crashed in practice and the primary is too badly damaged to race. The backup #5 car has an SB2 engine.

WHY ARE YOU CHANGING THE ENGINE? IT'S NOT AS IF CHEVROLET HASN'T HAD SUCCESS IN NEXTEL CUP RACING.

Mark Kent: Racing is a constantly evolving sport. You can be at the top of the game today and off your game tomorrow. And what happened with the SB2, and what's happened with other manufacturers and NASCAR publishing its list of parameters, we thought it was a great time for us to continue to show our commitment to NASCAR and our commitment to our teams to supply them with the best parts. So the timing's right.

WHAT'S YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE IN THAT FUEL PUMP CABLE SYSTEM THAT'S PART OF THE R07?

Jim Covey: I had a feeling I was going to be asked about fuel pumps . The issue is in 2005 NASCAR gave the teams the options to run a cable driven fuel pump that's mounted back on top of the fuel cell for safety and they also have the conventional mechanical diaphragm pump mounted off the front of the engine. In 2005 several teams started running them (the cable driven system) and had good success for the advantage of safety and packaging. As we went forward the decision was made knowing that as we were raising the camshaft we could run the cable off the back of the cam - that would probably be one of the better solutions. That was something that was done in conjunction with the teams. Since 2005 we've had numerous teams run thousands of miles - hundreds of races - without issue. As a matter of fact we've had four wins last year with the cable driven pump and that was with the SB2. So we have good confidence moving forward. I know that there's been a lot of questions about . on the R07 there is no place to mount a fuel pump directly on the block . we've designed in a mount that goes into a front cover similar to what some of our competitors do. We're not really stretching new ground there, we're just looking for something to push a little bit further. And, you know, even the mechanical pump is not without issue. Last year, at Kansas, Jeff Gordon had a DNF because due to a pull-rod on the mechanical diaphragm pump failing and, ironically, Tony Stewart won that race with a cable-driven pump.

YOU SAID THAT YOU USED THE SAME PROCESSES TO DESIGN THE R07 THAT YOU USE FOR PRODUCTION ENGINES. WHAT DID YOU LEARN THAT CAN BENEFIT CARS PEOPLE CAN BUY?

Jim Covey: Basically the concepts we used to design this engine are the same concepts we use to develop production engines. The difference being that what we develop here we develop quickly. We'll know even as early as tomorrow if what we did was correct.

IS RELIABILITY THE TEAMS' MAIN CONCERN NOW AND THAT'S WHY THERE'S A PARTIAL ROLLOUT?

Jim Covey: I wouldn't say it's necessarily reliability. The teams have a tremendous inventory of existing engines and, fortunately, we have the best teams and the best drivers and we've been very successful. I think that they're getting to the point in developing this engine, reliability is a big issue and they have to make sure they don't have a reliability issue. In addition they want to roll it out at a time that makes the most sense. The fact that the teams are rolling it out when they are is when they're most comfortable with it.

CAN YOU GO OVER THE PARTS THAT ARE IN THIS ENGINE THAT WERE PART OF NASCAR'S ENGINE OF TOMORROW PROJECT THAT'S NOW ON THE BACK SHELF?

Jim Covey: When we had meetings with NASCAR to develop the engine of the future we sat down - NASCAR had representatives of the manufacturers come to the meetings - so we all sat down and said in order to make sure it's equitable for everybody what parameters should we control? So NASCAR came up with a list of, probably, 20 parameters on the block and 20 on the cylinder head and 10 on the inlet manifold to say this is what the engine had to be built around. Those parameters were based on a different displacement engine but when they realized that having the car of tomorrow and having a new engine at the same time might make it difficult for the teams, they took that list of parameters and applied it to whatever was out there today. In effect, they ended up putting a box around what's out there today and saying you could not go outside that box. So knowing that, that actually helped us, as we were able to understand what parameters we were able to optimize.

HOW WILL YOU DEBRIEF AFTER THIS ENGINE'S DEBUT AND WHY AREN'T CHILDRESS RUNNING THIS ENGINE?

Jim Covey: Our teams - and we've got great confidence with our teams - will tear it down and take a look at it just like they normally do. If there are any issues that are common issues, they'll communicate that to us. They one thing I'm really proud of in how Chevrolet works with its teams is that after every race we get together, we contact the engine builders or they contact us and we document any issues. So that if there are common issues, if there is something related to one of our components, we can get it resolved quickly. With regard to Richard Childress, it's a matter of when they feel comfortable. Childress was the first to attempt to qualify and race the engine (in Atlanta), unfortunately they weren't able to qualify. They had tried to qualify again yesterday but with qualifying cancelled Scot Wimmer wasn't able to make the race.

Continued in part 2

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Casey Mears , Tony Raines , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports