Preseason Test: GM teams kick off 2005 season

Chevrolet NASCAR Teams Kick Off 2005 Season Preseason Thunder test days begin at Daytona International Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Nearly 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo race cars take to the track this week and next to kick off the 2005 NASCAR...

Chevrolet NASCAR Teams Kick Off 2005 Season
Preseason Thunder test days begin at Daytona International Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Nearly 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo race cars take to the track this week and next to kick off the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season in pre-season testing at Daytona International Speedway. Competitors that finished in odd-numbered positions in 2004 NEXTEL Cup owners' points, including drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will test this week. Those in even-numbered positions, such as Jimmie Johnson, will test next week, from January 18-20.

"Our plan is to start the 2005 season the same way we started 2004: by winning the Daytona 500," said Alba Colon, GM's program manager for NASCAR racing. "We've worked hard in the off-season in a number of areas and like all pre-season tests, it's hard to judge who will be competitive by looking at what teams do here at in qualifying. Some teams hold a lot back while other try to go out and do the best they possibly can. Our role doesn't change throughout-to provide the technical expertise that our Chevrolet teams can rely on throughout the season."

In the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2004, Chevrolet won its 28th manufacturers' title and surpassed Ford to become the most successful manufacturer of all time with 556 NASCAR victories (since 1949). Chevy drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart competed in the inaugural Chase for the Championship. Five drivers combined to win 22 races, matching Chevrolet's single-season race win record set in 1980. Additionally, Tony Eury Sr. was crowned Crew Chief of the Year for his efforts with the No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. In 2005, Chevy teams look to improve further, and this week's test session will play an integral role.

"Now I think pre-season testing is crucial," said Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "The first three or four years we'd do Cup testing, I'd look forward to it. Then there was a period of time where I'd dread it. And I just realized how important it is to be behind the wheel of the car, getting laps and getting the team information. These days the information you're getting is so important. By the time we come to this particular test, we might not make big changes but the fine tuning can affect how you do in the race."

After Daytona, teams will look forward to a few significant changes that will affect on-track performance. NASCAR recently announced that it would reduce the rear spoilers in the NEXTEL Cup Series by one inch at all non-restrictor plate tracks; in 2005, these non-restrictor plate spoilers will be 4.5 inches in height. Goodyear has plans to introduce a new tire compound later in the season. For the Daytona 500 specifically, the qualifying process has been modified. The Gatorade Duel at Daytona, which has traditionally been two 125-mile qualifying races, will now be a pair of 150-mile qualifying races. The extra 25 miles, or 10 laps, will force teams to re-think their pit strategies.

This year's Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, February 20.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, employs 325,000 people globally. Founded in 1908, GM has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM today has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in more than 192 countries. In 2003, GM sold nearly 8.6 million cars and trucks, about 15 percent of the global vehicle market. GM's global headquarters are at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM and its products can be found on the company's consumer website at www.gm.com.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson