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Q&A with Pennzoil Pontiac Engine Builder Ron Puryear

10 October 1997

     Pennzoil Engine Builder Ron Puryear, The New SB2
        Pennzoil Pontiac Engine Builder Ron Puryear, 56, visited victory 
     lane at Indianapolis with A.J. Foyt in 1977 and served as team manager 
     for Bobby Allison's 1988 Daytona 500 victory. But, not since joining 
     the Pennzoil team in 1992 has Puryear and other engine builders on 
     General Motors  teams faced an off season with as much work as 
     preparing the Small Block 2 (SB2) engine for the 1998 Winston Cup 
        GM's introduction of the new SB2 engine, with its intake valve 
     angle at 12 degrees instead of the current 18 degrees, promises better 
     torque performance on the race track, but means lots of work ahead for 
     engine builders. 
     How significant is the SB2's introduction in NASCAR?
        "Its probably the biggest design change the Chevrolet V8 has ever 
     seen. Even though it will basically use the same engine block, the 
     configuration of the cylinder head is drastically different from what 
     we have worked with over the past 30 years. The current engine's 18 
     degree angle intake valve is drastically different from the SB2's 
     12-degree angle. The manner in which the ports and the chambers are 
     laid out in the SB2 enhance the combustion process thereby increasing 
     the ability to produce power."
     Difference between current engine and SB2?
        "The biggest difference is in the port layout and the valve angle, 
     and combustion chamber design. The only thing that remain same are the 
     crankshaft, rods, oil pan and the water pump. Other than that, 
     everything has to be changed to accommodate the new cylinder head."
     What does the SB2 mean for the Pennzoil team?
        "At Bahari' Racing, we are looking at throwing away 25 engines that 
     cost about $35,000 each, and essentially starting over. A month and a 
     half ago we started generating new blocks. We have 5 complete now and 
     have 15 on order. We are now machining a second set of heads so it's 
     going to be a tremendous amount of work over the rest of the year. Not 
     only do we have to prepare for Daytona, but the whole season as well. 
     How will the SB2 impact performance?
        "The SB2 is designed to level the playing field. Our problem isn't 
     necessarily the horsepower number differentials. We suffer more in the 
     torque curve down below the peak horsepower number. The difference in 
     the torque in the lower portion of the rpm curve is a big factor in 
     the acceleration of the car.  That's where we can really gain the most 
     with the SB2 engine. 
        "Considering the way these drivers get on the throttle today with 
     the tires and chassis they have, Ford's engine characteristics are so 
     much better at the entry point of the rpm range and the terminating 
     point than the GM cars. In short, the GM cars should start getting off 
     the turns better than they are now"
     Key to development?
        "What we are concerned about is increasing the torque in the 7,000 
     to 8,000 rpm range. That's important because at most tracks the engine 
     works in that range most of the time."
     Where will fans notice the SB2?
        "It's pretty difficult to answer where this engine will be most 
     effective. It will definitely help at places like Atlanta, Charlotte, 
     and Michigan, where we felt the Fords  dominated. What matters most on 
     the shorter tracks will be the throttle response. It's a possibility 
     the response on the short tracks will be less than what we have now, 
     but that is something that over time will be addressed and corrected."
     Are you concerned about the work the lies ahead?
        "It is definitely satisfying when you overcome an obstacle, solve a 
     problem, or measure up to a challenge. I think it will be ready for 
     Daytona. GM has done a tremendous amount of testing and I think we 
     will be just as well off as if we stayed with the old engine."
     On-track testing?
        "Obviously, it's getting a workout on the engine dynamometer and we 
     have done a little testing with it in a Pennzoil Pontiac on the race 
     track at Indianapolis. We will do more and more as the season 
     progresses. In fact, most of our engine efforts now are centered on 
     working on the 1998 SB2 program."
     Since the SB2 is optional, do you think every GM team will use it in 
        "It's optional, but I think every GM team will run the SB2. It will 
     certainly have the torque curve characteristic we will need."
     How long will the SB2 used in NASCAR?
        "I don't see it around for 30 years or anything like that. I think 
     down the road you might see 4-cylinder, dual overhead cams, four valve 
     per cylinder engines. I think that approach may be one way to get us 
     away from the restrictor plate. With today's technology this engine we 
     are using is far behind the times. Hopefully in the near future we can 
     look at things like that."
     How will the restrictor plate SB2 compare to the current restrictor 
     plate engine?
        "It will generate the same challenges and problems as the old 
     engine. A lot of the things we learned with the current engine can be 
     applied to the new engine."
     Will the engine sound or fuel mileage change?
        "I don't think you will hear a difference in the sound unless over 
     the Winter it is determined that something drastically different in 
     the header arrangement occurs. The sound should be virtually the same. 
     I don't think fuel mileage will be greatly changed either."
     For More Information
     Contact: Drew Brown
     Cohn & Wolfe
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