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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Hanes 500 Preview: #17, Darrell Waltrip

24 September 1997

 #17 Darrell Waltrip, Parts America Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Hanes 500 Advance
 Martinsville Speedway

                       THAT'S THE BRAKES!

MARTINSVILLE, VA - Imagine putting 30,000 miles worth of wear on your
car's brakes in three hours. That's just what three-time NASCAR
Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip will do in only 263 miles in the
Sept. 28 Hanes 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

At no other track on the Winston Cup circuit are brakes as critical to
a team's success or failure than Martinsville Speedway. Reaching
speeds of nearly 125 mph down the straightaway and slowing to 60 mph
in the corners of the 0.526-mile oval, more than 1,000 times during
the event, puts an emphasis on brake wear management.

Waltrip, owner/driver of the No. 17 Parts America Chevrolet, will
start the 500-lap race with eight new brake pads (two pads per
wheel). New front-wheel brake pads are seven-eighths of an inch thick,
while the thickness of the rear pads measures five-eighths of an
inch. By the end of the race, he will have worn down nearly
three-fourths of each front brake pad and nearly one-fourth of each
rear brake pad. It would take 12-16 months to achieve that much wear
on a typical passenger car.

"We can average 95 mph around Martinsville," said Waltrip, who scored
a ninth-place finish earlier this season at the historic short
track. "A passenger car's brakes wouldn't last 15 laps here. These
brake pads are designed for the abuse they take here. The (brake) pads
are thicker and made from a harder carbon metallic compound than a
passenger car's pads, but the amount of wear is still very

The Parts America team uses air ducts to direct cool air from the
grille of the car to the brakes in order to keep them cool and working
properly. If too little air flows to the brake pads, they build up too
much heat, again rendering them ineffective. The heat is measured by
heat paint which is applied to the brake rotors. There are different
colors of paint which are gauged for specific temperature ranges,
which turn white when the temperature is reached.

"It's a catch-22," Waltrip added. "A driver has to be careful and not
abuse his brakes so they are working at the end of the race. You don't
want any brakes left when the checkered flag waves. Then you know
you've run a hard race."

By Cotter Communications