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2007 Preview: Hendrick Motorsports

2007 Preview: Hendrick Motorsports

2007 Preview: Hendrick Motorsports

Pete Pistone
Managing Editor

Despite winning the 2006 NEXTEL Cup Series title, Hendrick Motorsports will still sport a new look this season.

Defending champion Jimmie Johnson will be joined by Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and newcomer Casey Mears in Hendrick's four car stable this year.

"We're excited about the new year even though we're still trying to celebrate winning the championship," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "Last year was awesome because we had three of our teams in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and Jimmie ended up winning it for us. We've had a lot going on in the off-season trying to get ready for this season."

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus return with the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team intact and ready to try and become the first repeat Cup Series champion since Jeff Gordon turned the trick in 1997 and 1998.

"We want to do it again and we're just as hungry as we've ever been to come back and try to do it again," Johnson said.

"I think that every year I'm smarter, the team is smarter and we try to make the changes necessary to win the championship," Johnson said. "This year we want to make sure that we're mentally able to make it through all 36 races and especially in the final 10, regardless if we're on top of the world or if we're going through a tough time."

Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte bounced back from a tough time in 2005 to make the "Chase" last season. Although he stumbled in the post-season, Gordon feels the No. 24 DuPont team is back where it should be and will contend for his fifth title in 2007.

"But nine out of the 10 races in the 'Chase' we ran awesome so that has got me really pumped up," Gordon said. "With a championship team there and Casey Mears coming on board next year, Kyle Busch and that team as good as they are, I think all four teams are going to be really solid and it's only going to take us to that next level."

Busch's run in the "Chase" was frustrating, but with a Top 10 finish in the standings, the young Kellogg's Chevrolet driver is looking to carry last year's momentum into the new year.

"I think we're going to be really good and just as competitive as a year ago," Busch said. "This team really came together last season and we had some bad luck during the 'Chase' that put us in the hole early on. I think if we can get back into the 'Chase' and eliminate mistakes and get some good luck, we're going to be okay."

Veteran Mears rounds out the Hendrick roster, coming over to the team's No. 25 entry from Chip Ganassi Racing. The second generation driver is excited about the opportunity to join a championship-caliber team and his prospects for getting to victory lane.

"I'm more excited this year than I ever have been," he said. "This is going to be my fifth year in the Nextel Cup. My first couple of seasons were a huge learning curve, coming from the open-wheel side of things. Having the experience that I have now at this level and moving to an organization like Hendrick Motorsports, it's the best opportunity and the best situation I could possibly be in to go out and win races and do well."

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mvbski
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Re: 2007 Preview: Hendrick Motorsports

mvbski wrote:



Veteran Mears rounds out the Hendrick roster, coming over to the team's No. 25 entry from Chip Ganassi Racing. The second generation driver is excited about the opportunity to join a championship-caliber team and his prospects for getting to victory lane.

"I'm more excited this year than I ever have been," he said. "This is going to be my fifth year in the Nextel Cup. My first couple of seasons were a huge learning curve, coming from the open-wheel side of things. Having the experience that I have now at this level and moving to an organization like Hendrick Motorsports, it's the best opportunity and the best situation I could possibly be in to go out and win races and do well."

I look for Mears to have a break out year.  wink

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