Homestead: GM Racing - Monte Carlo retires

DETROIT - (November 13, 2007) - The final NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race of the 2007 season will mark the end of an era for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS - the winningest nameplate for the bow-tie brand in NASCAR competition. Since its NASCAR ...

Homestead: GM Racing - Monte Carlo retires

DETROIT - (November 13, 2007) - The final NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race of the 2007 season will mark the end of an era for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS - the winningest nameplate for the bow-tie brand in NASCAR competition.

Since its NASCAR introduction in May 1971, the legendary Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo SS contributed to 24 of the 31 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers' championship won by Chevrolet.

"The 2007 season has been historic for Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series," said Ed Peper, general manager of Chevrolet. "We have enjoyed tremendous success on the track with 26 victories: the introduction of our Impala SS as the nameplate for the new generation race car, earning Chevrolet's 31st Manufacturers' Championship and having an exciting championship battle going down to the wire.

"When the checkered flag falls at Homestead, Chevrolet teams and drivers will say goodbye to the Monte Carlo SS in NASCAR Cup competition. With 396 wins since its introduction in 1971, the Monte Carlo brand has set a benchmark in the series. Drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Benny Parsons, Cale Yarborough and Terry Labonte piloted their Monte Carlos to wins and championships. These icons in the sport passed the torch to today's champions such as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart to bring Chevrolet's total driver's championships to 23."

Peper concluded by saying: "We at Chevrolet will watch with pride as the Monte Carlo takes its last NASCAR Cup checkered flag at Homestead with our sincere thanks to the teams, drivers and most importantly the fans who have supported Monte Carlo throughout the years."

Of the 23 NASCAR Cup driver's championships won by Chevrolet drivers, 16 of the champions powered their way to the top prize with the help of the Monte Carlo collecting 396 wins in the process. Chevy's key partners in NASCAR Cup competition are quick to recognize the contribution of the Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo SS to the success their organizations have enjoyed through the years.

"One of the first cars I had on the lot when I became a Chevrolet dealer in 1975 was a white Monte Carlo," said Hendrick Motorsports owner, Rick Hendrick. "I looked at the window sticker and I was so proud that it said 'Rick Hendrick Chevrolet.' Now, to have all these Monte Carlos that have won races sitting in our museum, it's a huge honor for me. When you look at the heritage of Chevrolet, the Monte Carlo will probably go down in history as the ultimate race car. I will always associate it with winning.

"It's too difficult to choose a specific memory on the Monte Carlo on the track. There are so many special memories that it would be impossible to pick one or two above the rest. We're just so fortunate to have enjoyed such a great relationship with Chevrolet and the Monte Carlo."

"We were fortunate to win a number of races over the years with the Monte Carlo," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "The Brickyard 400s in 1995 and 2003, the Winston Select 500 at Talladega in 2000, Kevin's first Cup win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2001 and this year's Daytona 500 all are near the top. The best memory, however, had to be winning the 1998 Daytona 500 with Dale (Earnhardt). We had won the Daytona 499 more than a few times but never got to the top until '98. Having Dale win in his 20th try and it being NASCAR's 50th anniversary only made things that much bigger."

Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion, has been an exclusive Chevrolet driver throughout his remarkable career. With 81 wins, 233 top-five and 316 top-10 finishes on his Chevrolet Cup career resume, Gordon leads the distinguished list of drivers who have enjoyed success in the Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo SS.

"My favorite racing memory of the Monte Carlo was its reintroduction into the Cup Series back in 1995," said Gordon. "The car was so dominant that year, and we were able to win our first championship with it, as well."

Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has rocketed to 33 career wins, all behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.

"One of the neater things that I have done is to go to the Monte Carlo assembly plant and see the whole process," said Johnson. "That was actually really cool. I got to go up in the testing bay and go through all the cycles then got the green light and the sticker and drove it off the assembly floor.

"On track, it would be my first win in Nextel Cup (California Speedway, Spring 2002) was in a Monte Carlo. I have been in GM/Chevy guy my whole career, so I very proud to say I have only raced bow-ties, and I don't think there are many guys in the garage that can say that."

Two-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart offered his thoughts on Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo SS: "Probably my best memory with a Chevy Monte Carlo is what is still my most favorite racing memory - winning the Brickyard 400 for the first time (2005). Everyone knows how badly I wanted to win at Indy, and when I finally did, it was the best feeling I ever had.

"You dream about something for so long, you become consumed by it. When I was in USAC trying to make a living as a race car driver, I drove a tow truck for a guy I raced Sprint cars against. I would drive down Georgetown toward 16th Street, parallel with the frontstretch, and wonder what it would be like 300 feet to the left running 200 mph. I got a chance to do that, and finally, after years of trying to win, be it in Indy cars or stock cars, I got to know what it feels like, to see that view coming down the front straightaway, seeing the checkered flag and knowing that I was the first driver to cross the stripe versus the second-, third- or fourth-place guy. I wanted that moment for so long, and I finally got it. And it was a Chevy Monte Carlo that got me there."

Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver Martin Truex, Jr. has two NASCAR Busch Series championships and his career-first membership to the elite drivers involved in the 2007 Chase for the Nextel Cup piloting a Monte Carlo SS.

"I have a lot of fond memories of the Monte Carlo," said Truex, Jr. "I won 13 Busch Series races with it and two Busch titles. My favorite memory of the car is winning the Talladega Busch Series race for the third year in a row. The car was painted black like Dale Earnhardt's old car. He was one of my heroes growing up, and to drive a Monte Carlo like he did and to win those races at Talladega - a place that he dominated - meant the world to me."

The Monte Carlo SS will be gone from NASCAR Sprint Cup series competition, replaced full-time in 2008 by another legend in the Chevrolet lineup, the Impala SS. However, the strong, winning tradition of Monte Carlo SS will continue in the NASCAR Nationwide Series starting at Daytona 2008. So while the winning era of the immortal nameplate In NASCAR Cup Series competition will end with the drop of the checkered flag at Homestead, the memories amassed by drivers, teams and fans will never be forgotten.

-credit: gm racing

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