Petty Ready For New Year

It's been a long time since Petty Enterprises was considered a contender in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

But with the additions of Robbie Loomis to head the operation and driver Bobby Labonte, along with crew chief Todd Parrott, to the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge, 2006 could be the year of a resurgence.

"There are a lot of good things happening right now at Petty Enterprises," said Kyle Petty, who will return to drive the team's No. 45 Dodge again next season. "I think bringing in Robbie (Loomis) and then having Bobby (Labonte) join our organization before the season ends really gives us a huge boost as we get ready for next season. We’re pretty excited about that and what it means for next year."

Labonte's decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, where he'd driven the Interstate Batteries-sponsored No. 18 for nearly ten years and to a Cup Series championship, raised some eyebrows. But Labonte assured everyone he had given much consideration to the move and was excited by the prospects of joining Petty Enterprises, which he considered an icon of the sport.

I'm really pleased to be a part of Petty Enterprises," Labonte said. "When I first came into this sport, my heroes were Terry Labonte and Richard Petty. To have the opportunity to drive Richard Petty's No. 43 car is something I could not have imagined growing up."

Petty knows it was important for the struggling team to bring in people like Labonte and Loomis with a proven record of winning in order to turn around the organization.

“We’re in a good position to have Robbie (Loomis) and Bobby (Labonte) in place right now," Petty said. "That’s one less thing, and it’s a big thing, off our plate. I think having a guy like Robbie and a driver like Bobby come in now they can help us prepare. They know what it’s like to win races and championships. We’ve done that in the past, and now we have the people in place to get us back to where we were. We’re really ahead of what we might have been if we didn’t have these guys in place."

With the team's plans now set, the operation is in full preparation mode for 2006.

“Daytona may seem like a long time from now, but we just don’t stop," Petty said. "We have to start building cars, testing cars, going to the wind tunnel, and that’s all going on right now. We have to keep working to make sure we’re ready for next season. We are just in a good place right now with Robbie and Bobby in the Cheerios Dodge."

An even better place for Petty, the team and its fans will be a trip to victory lane in 2006.


Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2005, Kyle Petty

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