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GM FastLane:Plenty to Cheer About

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Jimmie Johnson

By Alba Colon

GM Racing Program Manager, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series

My adopted hometown baseball team, the Detroit Tigers, scored a big win on Saturday night. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for Chevrolet at the Bank of America 500 this weekend. Even though it wasn’t a win, I’m very proud of the performance of the seven Monte Carlo SS race cars that represented Chevrolet in the top 10.

Last week I mentioned two drivers that we know dominate at Lowe’s Motor Speedway — Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson. In case you didn’t catch the race, Kasey and Jimmie finished 1-2. It’s unfortunate we finished second but we knew Kasey would be very competitive as he has been at many of the mile-and-a-half tracks this year. I’m looking forward to Martinsville this weekend, a short track where Chevy has excelled. It’s only been one race but it would be great to get back to the winners circle again!

Even though our four-race win streak in the Chase has ended, the short-term and long-term picture look very good for Team Chevy, where we have a lot of things to be excited about right now. In the Chase, Jeff Burton has gained ground after increasing his lead in the points and putting more distance between a key Ford competitor. In preparation for next year, we had a successful Car of Tomorrow test session last week in Talladega and the new 2007 engine package for Chevrolet has been approved by NASCAR. Plus we have several talented drivers joining the Chevrolet lineup including some rising stars we will be bringing into the sport.

One success from this week was gaining some valuable points on our competitors, specifically Matt Kenseth. Last week Chevrolet had a narrow six-point advantage in the championship standings, but this week Jeff Burton has padded his lead to 45 points. Jeff continues to have consistent finishes week in and week out which is exactly what it’s going to take to win a championship for Team Chevy.

Kevin Harvick moved up one spot to third (despite dealing with broken gears in his transmission and a pit road speeding violation), pushing another Ford competitor, Mark Martin, back to fourth. I had an opportunity to talk to Kevin on Saturday after he clinched his second Busch Series drivers championship. He and the whole GM Goodwrench team were very upbeat on the momentum they are building. If Kevin wins the Nextel Cup and Busch Series championships this year, this could be the first and last driver we ever see in the history of NASCAR win dual drivers championships in the same season. What a truly amazing feat that could be.

We are also thrilled with some changes that are taking place with our teams that will add even more depth to Chevrolet. It was recently announced that Mark Martin and Regan Smith will join MB2 Motorsports and compete for Chevrolet. This veteran-rookie duo in the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevy will be a powerful combination and a great addition to our team. Ricky Carmichael will also pilot a Chevy in his MB2 debut next year. If you don’t know Ricky, he is the Jeff Gordon of motorcross. He’s the best of the best. The No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing team also added Brandon Thomas as the team’s new crew chief. Brandon is off to a great start with the team after a seventh-place finish this weekend, the best finish this season for driver Tony Raines. Our current Chevy stars, combined with these new drivers and crew members, provide a very bright future for Chevrolet in NASCAR.

Thanks for your continued interest in GM’s racing efforts and your comments. I appreciate your feedback.



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