Texas: GM Racing preview

Team Chevy Set to Take on Tough Texas Motor Speedway Samsung 500 Ft. Worth, TX - Although it is still early in the 2007 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Season (NNCS), Team Chevy has already amassed some amazing on-track statistics. Bowtie drivers...

Team Chevy Set to Take on Tough Texas Motor Speedway Samsung 500

Ft. Worth, TX - Although it is still early in the 2007 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Season (NNCS), Team Chevy has already amassed some amazing on-track statistics. Bowtie drivers have won five of the six races run with Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS and defending NNCS champion, setting the pace with three victories to date.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Monte Carlo SS, scored an exciting win in the Daytona 500 and Kyle Busch, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS, captured the first win in the Impala SS return to competition at Bristol. In fact, Team Chevy drivers are out front thus far in 2007 in virtually every statistical category including laps completed, miles completed, laps led, miles led, etc.

Chevrolet sits atop the Manufacturers' Cup standings with 51 points; second in the standings has 35 points.

However, since the first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race was held in 1997, Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) has become enigma of sorts. There has never been a repeat winner at TMS: 12 races, 12 different winners.

Of the eight Team Chevy drivers currently sitting in the top-10 in NNCS points, only two have taken trips to the TMS victory lane. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, won the inaugural NNCS race at TMS in 1997.

Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, is the most recent winner at the 1.5 mile 24 degree banked tri-oval taking the win in November 2006. He holds the record for the most laps led at TMS, a total of 453 in five different races.

"I've found that you can pass anywhere, really," said the two-time NNCS champion about TMS. "If you get a guy that misses the bottom of the corner and he bobbles, you can get around him. But even if someone doesn't make a mistake and you've got a little better car than they do, the groove has moved up enough over the years to where the track's a little wider, so you have more room to get a run on a guy. But as the tires wear out and grip goes away, drivers will make mistakes and a car's handling will become more important. And when a guy makes a mistake, you need to be there to capitalize on it. You can really pass anywhere as long as the right opportunity comes up."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, captured his career-first NNCS victory at TMS on April 2, 2000 and "Texas" Terry Labonte took his Monte Carlo SS to victory lane in April 1999. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo, and Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Monte Carlo SS, are tied for the most top-five finishes while Earnhardt, Jr., holds the record for the most top-10s.

"We're bringing our favorite chassis (#039) to Texas," said Earnhardt, Jr. "I think we'll be right back up there if we do what we should. Let's see if we can make it three top-10s and two top-fives in a row. The only time we've finished worse than 12th at Texas was when I crashed with a lapped car - and we would have easily been a top-five car that afternoon, so history is on our side."

Gordon could have a monumental weekend at TMS. The track remains only one of three active facilities on the NNCS schedule that Gordon has yet to post a win. If the four-time NNCS champion can break through for a trip to victory lane, it would not only drop the number to just two tracks, but tie him in total career wins with the late Dale Earnhardt.

The Chevrolet R07 engine development has progressed to the point where up to six teams are expected to run the engine at this weekend's race. Cars anticipated to debut the new Chevy engine are: Hendrick Motorsports teammates Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Monte Carlo and Busch; Stewart and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS and J.J. Yeley, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo SS as well as a fourth Richard Childress Racing entry, Scott Wimmer, No. 33 Holiday Inn Monte Carlo SS.

Practice for the Samsung 500 will begin Friday at 12:30 p.m. CDT for 90 minutes. Qualifying is set to begin at 4:10 p.m. that afternoon. Two practice sessions are on the schedule for Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. and final practice from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. CDT.

The 334-lap/501-mile race is schedule to start at 1:00 p.m. CDT on Sunday, April 15. 2007.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Wimmer , J.J. Yeley , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing