Martinsville: GM Racing preview

Team Chevy Rides into Martinsville with Momentum from Successful Bristol Debut of Impala SS Bowtie Brigade Looks to Notch Victory 43 at the Historic Virginia .526-Mile Track Martinsville, VA - Following the historic, successful debut of Impala...

Team Chevy Rides into Martinsville with Momentum from Successful Bristol Debut of Impala SS

Bowtie Brigade Looks to Notch Victory 43 at the Historic Virginia .526-Mile Track

Martinsville, VA - Following the historic, successful debut of Impala SS at Bristol Motor Speedway, Team Chevy rides into Martinsville Speedway with momentum on its side. The new-generation NASCAR race car, Impala SS for Team Chevy, will make its second appearance in competition at the legendary track that has been on the schedule since 1949.

Last weekend Kyle Busch, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, notched the 600th win for Chevrolet in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) competition; victory for the Impala SS in its NNCS launch (Impala competed previously in NNCS from 1959 to 1964) and the 200th NASCAR multi-series win for Hendrick Motorsports.

Given Chevy's successful record at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped Virginia track, 42 wins of the total 116 NNCS races run there, the Bowtie Brigade is looking sharp and ready for battle at the second consecutive short track race, race six of the 36-race NNCS season.

Jeff Gordon, No 24 DuPont Impala SS, leads all active drivers with seven (7) wins at Martinsville. The four-time NNCS champion has led 2,206 laps in 20 of his 28 previous race starts to hold the record of current drivers.

Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS, has two Martinsville victories and is the defending winner of the annual spring event. Stewart, two-time NNCS champion, is also a four digit lap leader, running on the point for 1,182 laps in nine different races.

Defending NNCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, also has two Martinsville wins including the fall 2006 race.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Impala SS, has scored one win on the flat, asphalt straights and concrete cornered track.

So what is the common denominator for these drivers heading in to Martinsville? Each one of them had a strong Impala SS at Bristol, as did many of their teammates, proving the organizations they drive for have maximized the technological tools developed specifically for the new race car by GM Racing experts.

GM Racing safety, aero and chassis specialists worked diligently over months and years with Chevy NNCS teams to produce the best race car possible. Four of the top-five finishers at Bristol were members of Team Chevy as was eight of the top-10 in the final order.

"Our teams were proof that hard work and dedication as a team pays off," said Alba Colon, GM Racing program manager for NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. "Our GM engineering staff has been working with our Chevy teams and NASCAR in the development of the Impala SS new-generation NASCAR race car in every aspect. From the safety changes, to chassis setup, to aerodynamic needs we have worked side-by-side with our teams to ensure they had the best possible package to take to the track.

"The strength of many of our Chevy drivers at Bristol capped off with the win by Kyle Busch is a testimony to the effort put forth by all. We are looking forward to Martinsville and feel we are prepared to be a force to be reckoned with. Of course, in short-track racing, there are so many unknowns that there is no way to predict the final outcome, as far as preparation goes, we are ready for this weekend."

This Martinsville spring event last year featured one of the most impressive drives of Dale Earnhardt, Jr's., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS, career as he rebounded from two separate crashes to take a battered Chevy to a fourth-place finish. His average finish in the April Martinsville event is 9.2 place.

"It's been a culture shock for everyone with the new car," said Earnhardt, Jr. "It doesn't have the same handling characteristics as the old car, so all of the adjustments and all of the changes that you need to make are a learning experience each lap. It reminds me of my rookie year in 2000, when we came from the Busch Series and all of a sudden we had to learn how to make a much different car do the things we liked or were used to before. It takes some time, but we'll be fine. DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) has been working really hard with a lot of test sessions at places like South Boston (Va.) to try and learn what the car likes on a short track like Martinsville.

Earnhardt, Jr. concluded by saying: "We've always been strong at Martinsville, and all I want or expect from my guys is that we're in the ballpark when we unload that car. If we're close, then we're going to be all right. Get me in the ballpark and I'll drive that thing as hard as I can. The mindset at Martinsville is a lot like Bristol or at a road course: you try to stay out of trouble and survive until the last 100 laps, and then you go racin' to see who's gonna take home the trophy. Last year at this race, we got caught in someone else's mess in the first few laps and still managed to get a top-five finish with a car that was beaten to within an inch of its life. It was cool, but I don't want to have to do that again."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports