NASCAR & Auto Racing

Gibbs to announce move to Toyota next week

Joe Gibbs Racing, which has fielded General Motors cars in NASCAR competition since JGR's 1992 inception, will move to Toyota beginning in 2008, the Charlotte Observer has learned.

A news conference has been tentatively set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at JGR's headquarters in Huntersville, where the announcement would take place, sources said Thursday. Officials with Toyota, JGR and Nextel Cup drivers Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin are scheduled to attend.

Toyota officials declined to comment. Mike Arning, a spokesperson for Gibbs, said no decision had been made about a manufacturer. GM officials reiterated that they do not comment on negotiations with their teams.

Coinciding with the move to Toyota, JGR and Hamlin, 26, have agreed on a contract extension that will keep the driver on JGR's No. 11 team through the 2013 season, sources said. Hamlin's contract is set to expire at the end of the 2009 season.

In addition, Arning confirmed that Stewart's representatives also have been in negotiations with JGR over a contract extension. Stewart's deal expires at the end of the '09 season.

Adding JGR -- one of NASCAR's most successful multicar teams -- would provide instant credibility and a big boost to Toyota and its fledgling Cup operation.

Toyota has struggled this season -- its first in the Cup series -- and earned just one top-five and six top-10 finishes. Dave Blaney has Toyota's only pole in Cup competition.

On the Busch Series side, Toyota has fared better, earning its first win this summer at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind., with driver Jason Leffler.

In 16 years of fielding Cup cars, JGR has 58 wins, 41 poles and 264 top-five and 439 top-10 finishes in 934 starts. Gibbs has won three Cup championships -- 2000 with driver Bobby Labonte and '02 and '05 with Stewart.

The 2000 and '02 titles came with Gibbs using Pontiacs, and the '05 title was with Chevrolet. JGR has fielded Chevrolets since 2003.

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