NASCAR

Camber considerations

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Camber in the rear wheels can be just as helpful as in the front. The only problem is making it work with a solid rear axle. There are companies today that produce rear-end housings with a specific amount of camber built in, but in the early days in Nextel Cup racing, we did it ourselves. In the early '90s, Junior Johnson with Bill Elliott and Andy Petree with Harry Gant were the first teams to figure this out, and they used camber in the rear ends to whip the rest of us pretty good until we caught on. When we first started running cambered rear ends, we'd put camber in them by heating up the tubes with a torch and then throwing a wet rag on one side to draw it up. We put the rag on the top to create negative camber or on the bottom of the tube to create positive. But the components weren't designed to be run on angles, and we started stripping axles and drive plates. We had to go to crowned axle flanges and do a lot of other things to get a cambered rear end to live. Still, you can't run nearly as much camber in the rear as you can the front of the car. Be careful with your air pressures, because they can affect your camber. This is especially true at short tracks where the pressures are low anyhow, down in the 18 to 25 psi range for the Nextel Cup cars. If you are running 15 pounds of pressure versus 25, that can make a big difference in the camber. What the sanctioning body normally does these days is check your rear camber at what we call inspection air pressures. The limit in the Nextel Cup Series is 1.9 degrees per wheel at the rear wheels. That's because we try to optimize our rear camber at flat tracks like Martinsville, where you really want a lot of camber in the car. I think the recommended air pressures were 18 in the left-side tires and 25 in the right, but we would sneak the right-side pressure up a bit higher than that which would bring some of the negative camber out of it and bring it back in line. Afterward, we'd let the pressure back out and the negative camber would go up. Of course, NASCAR realized what was going on after a while, so now they check the air pressure before they check the camber.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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