Iday Three:/I NEXTEL Cup Media Tour

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CONCORD, N.C. - Visits to Wood Brothers Racing, Robert Yates Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. highlighted Wednesday's activities on the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The media contingent started the day with a breakfast session featuring Petty Enterprises driver Jeff Green and seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Richard Petty. Green returns to the Petty stable again in 2005 and will pilot the team's No. 43 Cheerios Dodge teaming with Kyle Petty in the No. 45 Brawny Charger.

Veteran crew chief Paul Andrews joins the team to head the No. 45 operation with Petty Enterprises utilizing engines supplied by Evernham Motorsports this season.

"We've been struggling for a long time at Petty Enterprises," Richard Petty said. "We were struggling when I was still driving. Petty Enterprises has been up and down over the years and hopefully we are headed in the right direction. When you start looking at the things we've been doing, it's not just one thing, but a lot of different things that we needed to do differently. The engines needed to be better, the cars needed to be better and the drivers needed to be better."

The breakfast also included an announcement by General Mills that the company's Chex brand will sponsor this year's NMPA "Most Popular Driver Award," which has been won the last two seasons by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The day's first visit was to the Wood Brothers Racing headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. The veteran team, which relocated to the new home after spending its first 54 years of existence in Stuart, Virginia, occupies the former Robert Yates Racing building.

Ricky Rudd and crew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain addressed the gathering and expressed their enthusiasm for working together again after being reunited at the end of last season.

Robert Yates Racing was the next stop and teammates Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett met the media. Jarrett, who at 48 years old is one of the sport's elder drivers, indicated he was open to staying on at RYR after his current contract expires in two years.

"A lot of good things have happened at Robert Yates Racing in the last year after Mike Ford came in and reorganized everything," Jarrett said. "Our focus for 2005 is clearly to get back to victory lane...I've given it a lot of thought and I've seen a lot of the guys my age getting ready to retire, but they started earlier than I did, so I am going to stay at it a little longer. My contract is for two more years, but I'd like to stay around a little longer. If Robert and Doug Yates and UPS would have me back, I think I would look at racing through probably 2007. I have a minimum of two years and probably three left."

The final stop of the afternoon was to DEI. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and new crew chief Pete Rondeau, who moves over from Michael Waltrip's NAPA Chevrolet, talked about the reasons the team decided to change personnel.

"Tony Eury Sr. is in a new position overseeing things and I'm a lot more comfortable with who is looking over certain things within our company," Earnhardt said. "I think he is a real compliment to Richie Gilmore...Tony Sr. is 15 times more valuable to the company than he was six months ago."


Wednesday evening concluded with the annual Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards Dinner, held at the new Penske South Racing headquarters.

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