Preparing For 1999

HARRISBURG, N.C (January 10)- - At Hendrick Motorsports, everyone operates at top speed. It all begins, of course, with NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who tools around race tracks at upwards of 100 mph. It continues with "The Rainbow Warriors," the pit crew that gets Gordon and his No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes car back on the track in super-quick time. And it extends to the Hendrick garage, where two cars, the race car plus a back-up, are virtually rebuilt every week during the season.

There were 37 racing events packed into a 42-week season in 1998, which translates to a hectic pace in the garage. With crew chief Ray Evernham overseeing all aspects of the operation, everyone in the shop follows a routine aimed at producing optimum results in minimum time.

In the paint shop, that time is usually a two-day window, Tuesday and Wednesday of race week. To strip, prime, paint, and decal two cars in the space of 48 hours requires skilled painters and reliable, fast-working paint products.

Incorporating two new products into the DuPont finishing system helped make the job easier this season, according to George Nelson, head painter on Jeff Gordon's car. "We began using 72400S Clear and the new ValueShadeTM 1141S Primer-Filler late this year, and we got better looking jobs faster," he says. The 72400S ChromaPremierTM Appearance Clear replaced 7800S ChromaClear. "It lays down smoother and gives us a better shine," says Nelson. "And it dries faster. By using the accelerator 389S -- we can decal the next day. Before, we had to wait two days."

Nelson, along with painter, Dan Stonemetz, also save time with the new ValueShade 1141S 2K Urethane Primer-Filler. "We had been using 1140S Uro® Primer-Filler," says Nelson, "but we had to put a white sealer over it before we applied the orange in the #24 car color scheme. But by using 1141S, which is the white ValueShadeTM, we no longer need the sealer. So we're saving at least 30 minutes."

There's little or no downtime for the shop, even during the off season. All 13 cars must be prepared for the 1999 season. Each one will be stripped via media blasting, then the chassis will be painted gray and the bodies primed. After that, everyone prepares for the race at Daytona in February. Then they embark on another season of working at top speed to remain the team to beat in Winston Cup racing.

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