Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 92

�CLAYTON MURPHY
My passion is racing and my job is the same ,” Murphy says .
“ To do your hobby seven days a week sometimes kind of sucks . But it ’ s fun now , where before it was kind of a job . I was on the road 40 weeks a year and it was just getting out of control .
�Between working in the shop developing parts for customers like “ Daddy Dave ” Comstock ( left ) or at the track competing with racers like Wes Distefano ( right ), Murphy has found a satisfying work balance .
when he sucked , we would pull through . It has to work this way .”
Along with Stewart , Boudreau and Smith , Murphy praises the team ’ s manufacturer partners like Daryl Hameetman at Hameetman Racing Engines and Greg Samuel at FTI Performance for providing him with feedback , advice , and choice products .
“ I think we accomplished a lot this year , coming out without really any runs on the car ,” Murphy says . “ New car , new combination , new engine builder . Daryl had built some 632 stuff for his own car . I raced with him a couple years ago trying to help their program out . I knew how his stuff ran . He ’ s very humble just like us and he has a passion for making stuff work . The same thing with Greg at FTI . I ’ ve never met a transmission guy that worked harder than he does .”
As a longtime employee and now owner of Chassis Engineering , Murphy uses an analytical , engineer ’ s approach to racing , whether it ’ s developing chassis components or making them all work as a part of the car . He says Hameetman and Samuel share that approach as well , as they ’ re known to experiment and try different ideas that others might write off .
“ That ’ s the thing that I like : finding those little things that nobody else has ,” Murphy says . “ And with a single-jet deal , there ’ s not much more you can do . You either make power and harness it or you don ’ t . Chassis wise , you have to make the car extremely efficient .”
After the triumphs of the 2021 season , Stewart and Murphy are both charged up for the new season . They plan to test and compete in Florida ’ s “ winter series ” races to get geared up for another season in the increasingly competitive PDRA class that will be known as Pro 632 in 2022 . Stewart ’ s racing operation will also grow , as his sons , Blake and Colin , will join the team .
“ We ’ re looking forward to next year for sure ,” Stewart says . “ My son [ Blake ] is going to start to race Top Sportsman next year . We ’ ll get a little bit bigger trailer so we can fit two cars in there . It will be a lot of fun . We ’ re going to let them both drive a little bit at first , but Colin is still in college so he has to get done with that .”
Murphy is determined to put Stewart in championship contention yet again . This past season , Stewart finished second behind two-time world champion Wes Distefano and the $ hameless Racing team . A runner-up in the championship chase and a pile of trophies is enough of an accomplishment , but it ’ s the backstory behind the season that makes it that much more meaningful .
“ We accomplished a lot ,” Murphy admits . “ We won two races here , we were in the semis six times , we qualified in the top 3 every race . Just having that accomplishment for me is almost like redemption that I know I can still make these programs and these cars work . With all the shit that I went through – it was all self-inflicted – but all the stuff I went through to get back , my brain still works , which is awesome .” DI
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