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New GM engine gets first victory

New GM engine gets first victory

New GM engine gets first victory
May 24, 2007

Just what Chevrolet needs, another advantage.

The General Motors brand has overpowered NASCAR's Nextel Cup series this season, winning 10 of 11 races, including the last nine.

Lost in the excitement of last Saturday night's million-dollar, non-points victory by Kevin Harvick was the first win for the Chevrolet R07 stock-car engine.

``That was our first crack at it in the car and, obviously, it ran really well,'' Harvick said. ``We were really able to compete.''

The R07 powerplant is the first all-new NASCAR engine for Chevy in 42 years and was introduced by several teams into Cup competition at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

``So far we're very happy with how it's been working out for us,'' said Jim Covey, NASCAR engine program manager for GM.

In Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, 11 Chevrolets will compete to score the engine's first win in a Cup points event: Joe Gibbs Racing (three cars), Hendrick Motorsports (four cars), Ginn Racing (three cars) and Hall of Fame Racing's lone entry.

It's the longest race of the season, but Covey said he expects the new engine to hold up very well.

``We feel pretty comfortable now that our teams have had some time under their belt with the engine and the fact that we haven't seen any issues so far,'' he said.

DO IT NOW: Now that NASCAR has decided to run the Car of Tomorrow full-time in 2008, some say even that isn't soon enough.

``I think we should run the COT the second-half of 2007,'' said Cup owner-driver Kyle Petty. ``These are smart people in the NASCAR garage. There are smart crew members, smart crew chiefs and smart drivers. They can handle the COT. They can make this work.''

The bigger, boxier and, hopefully, safer car was introduced this season after seven years of development. The COT already has run five of 16 scheduled events this season. It was supposed to be phased into the full 36-race schedule in 2008 and 2009.

Instead, at teams' requests, the schedule has been compressed to save money and time.

``It's a great move by NASCAR,'' Petty said. ``I think we've gotten into some headaches with it in the races that we have run, but we need to race it more and more. We need to learn it and get into a rhythm.''

WATCHING INDY: When two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart first began thinking about going racing as a kid in Indiana, his goal was to race in and win the Indianapolis 500.

After serving an apprenticeship in short-track racing, Stewart got to Indy in 1996 and has raced there five times with a best finish of fifth in 1997. He also won the IndyCar Series title in 1997 before heading for NASCAR.

Even though he hasn't run an IndyCar race since finishing sixth at Indy in 2006, his interest in the open-wheel cars has never waned. Stewart, who will race later Sunday in Charlotte, wouldn't think of missing the 500 - at least on TV.

``I'll wake up in time to watch the start of it and I'll take a shower during the first commercial and watch as much of it as I can, just like I have the last couple of years,'' Stewart said. ``I enjoy the race and I enjoy watching the race. I think it's going to be a tighter field than ever. So I'll be excited to see it just like everyone else will.''

Stewart remains a big supporter of the Indy Racing League.

``Everybody likes NASCAR-style racing, where guys can race wheel-to-wheel,'' he explained. ``When I started in the IRL, I remember running at Texas with Buddy Lazier, and after the race was over he was yelling at me because we ran side-by-side for three laps.

``Now, they're doing that for entire races at the mile-and-a-half tracks, and the fans love it. It's just a good formula. It's brought NASCAR-style racing to open-wheel racing.''

STAT OF THE WEEK: There's a good reason why four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon is leading the season standings. After the first 11 races, Gordon has led a series-leading 674 of 3,653 laps, 18.45 percent. Denny Hamlin, fourth in the points, is next with 610 laps led (16.7), followed by Stewart, sixth in the points, with 592 laps led (16.21) and series runner-up and reigning champ Jimmie Johnson with 530 laps led (14.51).

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