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Ex-employee's lawsuit claims improprieties in engine shop at RCR


Court papers say Childress fired man after recruiting him from Gibbs operation




The Charlotte Observer


A lawsuit filed by a former Richard Childress Racing employee includes specific allegations that engines the team used during 2006 Speedweeks at Daytona were designed to defeat NASCAR rules.


The team denies the allegations.


Anthony Corrente, who lost his job as assistant manager for engine research and development for RCR this year, filed suit Wednesday in Mecklenburg County superior court. It alleges wrongful termination, defamation and breach of contract by the team, which fields Nextel Cup cars for Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.


Corrente said he inspected an engine from Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet after the Budweiser Shootout and found it had been altered to allow more air to enter, which would be contrary to the purpose of carburetor restrictor plates used at Daytona.


"Inserts were placed in the four outside corners of the cylinder head where the manifold is attached," the lawsuit says. When tightened, the bottom of the bolts hit the inserts, leaving room for air to get between the intake manifold and cylinder head. Such air would get to the engine beneath the restrictor plate, which is designed to limit the flow of air. More air means more power, at least in theory.


The suit also says Burton won this year's Daytona 500 pole with an engine that had the same modifications. Burton's engine passed NASCAR inspection.


Corrente said he found the inserts when he checked Harvick's engine after four pistons were damaged in the Shootout.


"I called Richard in Daytona because I was concerned about his reputation," Corrente said. "He said we would talk about it when he got back from Daytona." When Childress returned, Corrente's lawsuit says Childress said "All teams do something to enhance performance."


In a statement released Thursday night, Childress said: "The allegations made about RCR in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former employee are absolutely untrue. Specifically, our cars passed NASCAR inspection both before and after qualifying for the 2006 Daytona 500. Additional allegations made are also untrue. We will make no further comments until after the issue is resolved in a court of law."


Corrente left Joe Gibbs Racing in July 2005, signing a three-year contract with a two-year renewal option at RCR. He said he was fired after talking with Harvick in May during a test at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where Harvick's team had tested an engine built to Corrente's specifications.


Corrente said Childress recruited him to help improve RCR's engine performance. Corrente said he and Childress discussed that Corrente would need "open communication with the drivers and crew chiefs."


RCR cars' performance has improved markedly in 2006. Harvick has won four Cup races and he and Burton made the Chase for the Nextel Cup after RCR was shut out of the championship "playoff" the previous two seasons.


"I did everything I told him that I would do," Corrente said.


Corrente said that from the first day of work at RCR, people asked about how engines were constructed at Joe Gibbs Racing.


"Plaintiff (Corrente) refused to divulge any information about his former employer's engines," the lawsuit states. "At this time Plaintiff began to be a little suspicious about why he had been hired."


Corrente said he met resistance when he tried to bring ideas to RCR's production department. After a manager asked why performance was not improving as rapidly as hoped, Corrente spoke about the problem and was told he needed to prove his formula was better. That's when the engine for the Lowe's Motor Speedway test was built to Corrente's specifications.


"Kevin was extremely happy with the performance of the engine and asked Plaintiff if he could have it for the upcoming race," the lawsuit says. "Plaintiff told Harvick he could have it for every race if the employees he had been hired to help would do as Richard Childress instructed."


Corrente said Childress told him not to talk to Harvick because Childress didn't want the driver to lose confidence in the engine department. At that time, Harvick was about to sign a contract to stay with the team.


On the second day of the test at the Concord track, Corrente said, he was about to leave the track when Harvick approached.


"I was kind of venting," Corrente said of that second conversation. "I said, `Here's why we don't have this every week.' I told him about all of the stuff that was going on and I asked Kevin to help me fix it. I said, `I just don't know what else to do, but we got what we need and I can't get them to listen to us.' And I said, `I will probably wind up getting fired over this,' because I knew Richard would be upset."


The next day, Corrente said he was summoned. The next week, he was asked to agree to resign for two months' severance pay, but Corrente declined to sign that deal and his employment was eventually terminated.


"I still think Richard is a good person and a man of his word and I hope he will do what he promised me," Corrente said.


The lawsuit also alleges RCR "has `black-balled' Plaintiff from the racing industry" and "Defendant has told others in the industry that Plaintiff has an `attitude problem' and that he is a `trouble-maker.' "

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Tiny air holes - or other mechanisms - to allow air into the manifold (as long at the volume of air is constant over a fairly narrow temperature range) allows a restrictor-plate engine to pack more fuel/air mixture into the combustion chamber. I had never heard of this particular method, though. Very clever.


One way to tech for this is to turn on the engine with the fan unconnected and fill the engine compartment with cigarette/cigar/pipe smoke and watch where the smoke goes. If small amounts get sucked into the intake manifold without going through the carb it's a pretty good indicator.. Sometimes you can even hear the air whistling through the tiny openings.



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seems like everybody is obsessed with tiny air holes this week......when rcr was not running good, they were hardly mentioned except for when it was contract time.....now they turned around their program and started running good again and they are cheating with tiny air holes in everything.......sounds like a bunch of haters to me.......

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I am a Ryan Newman fan but I realy hoe Kevin Harv. wins this champ. Would be nice to see someone else other than Roush and others win all the time. And besides that he can do one hell of a burnout.

im surprised your a newman fan [.not ]your pic tells the truth .i dont give a boogie butt who wins it unless its martin .he needs to get one .

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'HATERSCE'........what are you saying reb?

i think youre just flat peeved because stewhead did'nt make the chase. ;)

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i think youre just flat peeved because stewhead did'nt make the chase.


Not a chance in the world crazy!!


Since Kulwicki was killed, been a Mark Martin fan. Actually I've always supported all the old ASA guys that I used to watch run the local tracks in Ind, Ill, Wisc and Mich when I was growing up. I do favor the Roush team especially since they got rid of big mouth Busch.



Ummmmmm, rebel......how many times has the 48 team been busted/crew chief on suspension???? LMAO


"C" h "E" aters!!! :P

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very cool....... burton drove a helllllllllaaaaavvvvvaaaaaaaaaaaaaa race.

let's see what they question this week?

RCR sweeps the weekend and the IRISH come from behind to beat msu..........(only wish they would have planted the ND flag on the 50yd line afterwards) .






ps- you still missed church J.

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