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GMAC Racing Eyes Start of 2005 Season

CONCORD, N.C. (Feb. 7, 2005) – It’s been 77 days since the close of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, but that doesn’t mean teams have had idle time on their hands—particularly the GMAC Racing squad.

Since the checkered flag dropped at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November, the No. 25 team has had plenty on their plates in preparation for the start of the 2005 schedule.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2004 season, a series of moves were made with the hopes of achieving the same success experienced by the Nos. 24 and 48 stables, which operate as one team under one roof.

After being separated for a year, Lance McGrew and Brian Vickers have been reunited for 2005, as McGrew was named crew chief for the No. 25 outfit.  Together the pair will look to rekindle the success of their Busch Series championship-winning effort of 2003.

It means a lot to be back working with Lance,” Vickers said.  “There’s a level of communication I have with him that I’ve never had before with a crew chief in my career.  He’s intelligent and we have a good understanding of one another.”

Next, longtime 24-team architect Brian Whitesell was named manager for the Nos. 5, 25 and 44 NEXTEL Cup teams, a newly created position.  Whitesell, one of the driving forces behind Hendrick’s No. 24 group, was also a principal influence in the development of the No. 48 lineup.

In January, the Nos. 5, 25 and 44 teams moved into a new state-of-the-art 85,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the 24/48 building on the Hendrick Motorsports grounds.

“There’s been a lot of changes made to make this team better, all of which have me excited,” Vickers said.  “I’m trying to be reasonable with my goals for ’05, but at the same time I have high expectations.”

On the track, pre-season test sessions at California Speedway, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway have kept the crews busy and the transporter drivers on the road.

The 2005 NEXTEL Cup Series schedule officially opens Feb. 20 with the running of the Daytona 500, but for some teams, including GMAC Racing, the Feb. 12 Budweiser Shootout signifies the start of season.

Run on Saturday night under the lights at Daytona, the Shootout is a 70-lap, special non-points event featuring drivers who earned pole positions during the previous season.  Past champions of the Shootout who did not earn a pole during the previous year also are eligible to compete.

By virtue of winning his first career Cup Series pole position at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in May of last year, Vickers joins 19 other eligible drivers for this year’s event. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson will also compete.

The fan-favorite event held during prime time allows those competing teams the chance to gain some valuable drafting experience prior to the Daytona 500.

FOX will provide live coverage of Saturday night’s Shootout beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

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