New Chevrolet R07 to be Tested at the Texas Motors Speedway

By: Jerick Brooks

Big changes are taking place over NASCAR and for this coming weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway another transformation will be taking place. While the Nextel Cup drivers are driving their old familiar cars which they have been driving for years after the first two races in the Car of Tomorrow, the rest of the Chevrolet entries are to be powered by a new engine.

Chevrolet maker of the quality , has been developing an engine for nine years now and for the first time it will make its racing debut in Samsung 500. "This engine now called the R07 actually started out as R99 because we ran it the first time in 1999," said Mark Cronquist, chief engine builder for Joe Gibbs Racing. He also added, "There was an R03. There was an R05 that never got off of the chalkboard, basically. We had it all designed, but never made it. Then there's this one, R07. So really, this R07 has been worked on by GM teams since 1998. I've got notes in my office from the very first time we talked about this engine. It was January 1998."

The process was rather frustrating but at the end it was worth the wait said Cronquist and "the awesome thing is that, if you look at R09 and R07, they don't even look alike, so I'm glad NASCAR never approved it. It had some updates, but every time NASCAR didn't approve it, we went back and worked harder on it and changed more things on it."

For this coming weekend it is expected that six teams will run the new engine. Gibbs Racing will place an R07 in the cars of Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and J.J. Yeley Hendrick Motorsports' Casey Mears and Kyle Busch, and Scott Wimmer, driving a fourth Richard Childress Racing entry.

General Motors world's largest automaker and distributor of is hoping to have the engine ready for this season's upcoming race but unfortunately a few technical difficulties slowed the progress of the project. Cronquist is very much excited to get the new engine into competition. He said, "With a motor we've been running, the block part of it was actually designed in 1955. We've made a few modifications to it, but it would still bolt into a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. The new block has got a lot more technology in it. Its more updated block than what we've ever had before."

When asked if the new engine produces more horsepower and torque or is more fuel efficient, Cronquist replied, "it's just better all over. We're finally more even with what Dodge and Toyota have. It kind of got us back in the same playing field, back in what's considered NASCAR's box. We were outside of the box, actually below the box. We had disadvantages and they finally let us get the same advantages that other manufacturers had over us. I don't think that we've really gotten into much of the performance part about it. A lot of it is that the shop needs just a lot less time to work on the parts and pieces of it. There's a lot of stuff in this block that's already cast into the block that we used to have to make ourselves and try to fit into our blocks. That took a lot of time and effort to do. If the performance comes, it will come because we're going to have a lot more time in our shop to work on it."

Cronquist further added, "A lot of it is that the shop needs just a lot less time to work on the parts and pieces of it. There's a lot of stuff in this block that's already cast into the block that we used to have to make ourselves and try to fit into our blocks. That took a lot of time and effort to do. If the performance comes, it will come because we're going to have a lot more time in our shop to work on it."

Chevrolet's 5 of 6
The Chevrolet team has gotten to a great start this year in Cup winning five of the six races. The reigning champion Jimmie Johnson has won three of the five races while Hendrick with teammates Kyle Busch, and RCR's Kevin Harvick have won the other two for GM. The victory of Matt Kenneth's at California Speedway in a Ford is the only blemish on Chevrolet's record for this season.

Out of the eight Chevy drivers that are currently in the top 10 in Cup points, two have won at Texas. Jeff Burton won the inaugural Cup race in Fort Worth in the year 1997 but he was a driver of Ford at that time. Stewart won on the 1.5 mile Texas track last fall. The different drivers winning each of the 12 Cup races at Texas only two others have been in Chevrolets namely Terry Labonte who won in 1999 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. who won in 2000.

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