2007 Preview: Joe Gibbs Racing

2007 Preview: Joe Gibbs Racing

2007 Preview: Joe Gibbs Racing
Pete Pistone
Managing Editor

Joe Gibbs Racing comes into the 2007 season with its trio of NEXTEL Cup Series drivers inttact and looking to build on a pretty successful 2006.

Although 2005 champion Tony Stewart shocked man by missing the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup," JGR still had a solid season with Stewart finding victory lane five times and freshman Denny Hamlin winning "Rokkie of the Year" honors in an impressive first season.

"We're pretty confident about where we're at in this stage of the season," Hamlin said during testing at Daytona in January. "This is probably one of the best speedweeks Gibbs had had probably ever as far as where we're at time-wise versus the other guys. So we've tended in the past to close the gap on guys from testing to race weekend, so hopefully if that trend continues, we should be pretty good."

Hamlin of course started last season with a bang at Daytona, winning the Budweiser Shootout as a warm-up to his two wins at Pocono later in the season and ROY honors.

Stewart comes into 2007 with maybe the most momentum of any driver on the series. After missing the "Chase," Stewart was one of the hottest drivers on the circuit winning three times during the post-season.

Stewart has spent his winter racing everything with four wheels including midgets and sports cars and is ready for the new Cup season.

"We've been very, very busy this winter," Stewart said. "I just did stuff that I am supposed to be doing at home. Just because we didn't break something doesn't mean we weren't doing stuff," he said referring to last year's shoulder injury when he flipped during the Chili Bowl midget race.

Yeley has been impressive during this winter's testing sessions and with a year under his belt, feels like he'll be competitive in the NEXTEL Cup Series this year.

"We’re definitely very satisfied with the new cars that the guys worked so hard on at the shop," Yeley said during this week's testing session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "I know that they found some stuff body-wise to help the aerodynamics and downforce. Not that we struggled with intermediate tracks last year, but knowing that the guys worked hard over the winter to give us a better race car is very encouraging. The majority of the tracks we’ll run on are mile-and-a-half banked race tracks, so it just makes you look forward to going to California, Vegas, Atlanta and some of the other intermediate race tracks that come up early in the schedule."

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