10 Minutes with Jeff Andrews – Hendrick Motorsports by MahleClevite

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									10 Minutes with Jeff Andrews – Hendrick Motorsports



Just last week the Team and I interviewed Jeff Andrews, the Director of Engine Operations for
Hendrick Motorsports. If you’re a race fan or engine enthusiast I’m sure you’ve probably
wondered about what goes on behind the scenes at a race, about the motorsports lifestyle, and
what a professional like Jeff knows or thinks about the latest racing engine technology. I’ve got
the scoop on all of that and more with an inside look at what a Director of Engine Operations
goes through day in and day out while making sure his team gets to Victory Lane. If you have
any questions for the Team or Jeff, let us know – we’d love to hear from you!




Jeff Andrews at 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Fontana

Doc: Thanks for being here with all of us today Jeff. Here’s your first question – How did you
get your start in motorsports?

Jeff Andrews: It all started with my Dad. He has been involved with building race engines for
various racing series across the U.S. for most of his life, since he was capable of building an
engine when he was an early teenager, whether it was his own race cars and then later on to
building engines for other competitors. He did all of this out of our garage, and I remember when
I was very young standing on the back of engine stands at 5 years old watching engines being
built. Years later I began working for him in various facets of engine assembly. My start in
professional motorsports began in 1987 when a good friend of mine on the West Coast who was
a driver had some contacts in what was the CART Series at that time which led to my first job in
professional motorsports.

Fast Eddie: OK…my turn. In your opinion what is the most important factor to winning a race?

Jeff Andrews: Outside of driver skill… what’s most important is being consistent throughout
the entire race weekend from practice to the race. You have to have a lot of things go your way
on Sunday as well, the engine’s performance and durability, the performance and handling
characteristics of the car, the pit crew and pit stops, the race strategy that the crew chief calls – it
takes all of these things and if you are have a good day in all of these areas, at the end of the day
you’ll win a race.

Suzi: Great insight! Now I’ve got one for you. What do you like most about working for
Hendrick Motorsports?

Jeff Andrews: I like the people that I work with and the day-to-day challenges that the
competition of NASCAR brings, but what is most rewarding is putting those challenges in front
of our people and watching them work together as a group to conquer the challenge. They are the
best group of men and women to work with, we are very fortunate to have them working for us.

Doc: My question is a bit more technical. What are the technical challenges you expect as
NASCAR goes from carbureted to fuel injected engines in 2012 – what are your thoughts overall
and are you in favor of it?

Jeff Andrews: Some of the challenges will be packaging and implementing the fuel injection
systems in both the vehicle and the engine. Anytime that we make a change to engine
architecture that involves something where there’s a vehicle interface, it becomes quite
challenging because we’re not only affecting our inventory of parts and engines but we’re also
affecting the team’s inventory of parts for the vehicles – so that’s a challenge to understand how
we’re going to deal with it and how we’re going to implement it.

From a technical side on specifically the engine, the biggest change will be the way the systems
that deliver the fuel and spark to the engine are controlled and adjusted. What used to be a
physical jet change or a manual adjustment to ignition timing will now be set and programmed
through a laptop. With this comes a challenge in educating our folks who tune the engines at the
race track. We will no longer use timing lights or jets to adjust the air fuel mixtures and ignition
timing at the race track – we’ll do all of this through a laptop computer.

I am definitely in favor of the change. NASCAR needed to advance technically, specifically in
the area of the engine and our manufacturer Chevrolet, needed our R07 engine to advance further
technically to give them greater relevance to the type of technology that they’re selling in their
vehicles today. Going forward, it will be easier for the race fan or mechanic that has technical
knowledge and understanding of fuel injection and today’s emissions systems to easily identify
with what we’re doing.

Fast Eddie: Great answer – sounds like it will rev up the competition! Here’s a curve ball for
ya…So this one time, I’m going down the backstretch on the last lap – leading the race of course,
and my engine blows as I hit turn 3. Doc had the nerve to tell me I was pushing too hard – how
do you handle inevitable engine failures with your drivers?

Jeff Andrews: You have to absorb their frustrations, put aside your disappointment and the fact
that the product you have given a race team has let them down on that particular weekend. You
have to listen to the driver, crew chief and the team. You’ve got to understand all of the factors
that were a part of the day and make sure none of them were conditions that led to the failure.
Higher temperatures or a missed shift somewhere on the restart by a driver could be causes. Put
all these things together, then sit down and analyze the failure so you can make sure it doesn’t
happen again. If we are unfortunate enough to have a failure we have to learn from it and make
sure it does not happen again.

The worst mentality that you could ever have when trying to handle and deal with failures is
being defensive. I have to be completely open and accept that the engine failed. You can’t have
an excuse either. The longer you blame a failure on something other than the engine, the more
time is taken away from getting to the root failure.

Suzi: Shifting gears – I know you were recently married – how did you and your wife meet?

Jeff Andrews: I met my wife Cheryl just by chance at a restaurant in Fort Worth, TX. I was in
town for the race weekend and went to dinner with a few friends that I work with. We were there
to meet a local friend of ours that we have dinner with on our visits to Texas. Little did I know
that he was bringing Cheryl with him as a blind date for a friend of mine. Well, fortunately for
me, the blind date did not go so well and Cheryl and I got to know each other, the rest is history!

Fast Eddie: How romantic…OK back to me. Here’s the most important question of the
interview – as a driver, and of course a winner, what do you do to make sure your drivers get to
Victory Lane?

Jeff Andrews: First and foremost is to ensure that we have durability and reliability in our
Chevrolet R07 engine package that is running the race on a weekly basis. If we want to get to
Victory Lane, the first thing we have to do is finish the race. The next is to work very hard to
make sure our engines are running at a competitive power level to give our teams an advantage
to be their best on Sunday.

Suzi: Jeff, you look like a guy who knows how to have a good time. When you’re not at the
races, or in the shop at Hendrick, what do you do for fun?

Jeff Andrews: Spending as much time on the road as we do, we really like to get away from
Charlotte and the everyday routine with a trip to a warm beach somewhere, my favorite place
we’ve been is Antigua. Outside of that, I really enjoy working in my own garage on my 1963
Corvette, my 1969 Z28 Camaro and riding my Harley.

Doc: I’m like you I love to be in the garage too Jeff. Now for final and most important question
of the interview –as a fellow engine expert, what other technical advancements do you foresee in
the future for race engines?

Jeff Andrews: We’d like to see the engine to continue to evolve at a level of technology that is
even more comparable to what’s happening today in the production car world – for example,
direct injection, which is when the fuel is directly sprayed into the combustion chamber of each
cylinder of the engine rather than into the intake track. However, we have to be very cautious as
a sport and as individuals who are responsible for the money spent in this sport that we plan our
advancements in technology carefully. NASCAR does a terrific job at this; our sport thrives
today because of the rules that are in place to help control costs. We applaud NASCAR for
taking this in small steps, allowing us to slowly ramp our technology level up. At the same time,
we need to make sure we’re a sport that keeps progressing with technology so it continues to
bring along other technical partners not only to Hendrick Motorsports but to the sport in general.

								
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