Sprint Media Tour: Day 3
January 23, 2008 | 10:11 P.M. EST
New HOF driver J.J. Yeley met the media during a breakfast presentation. The team will again be a satellite operation of Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 96 DLP entry will switch from Chevrolet to Toyota.
The tour's first visit of the day was at the new Petty Enterprises headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. After spending 60 years at the team's founding location in Level Cross, PE has moved its entire operation into a facility which formerly housed Robert Yates Racing.
"I guess a lot of you in the media went to Level Cross last year on the Media Tour when the cat was kind of let out of the bag about us wanting to move to another shop," said team patriarch Richard Petty. "It was a hard decision and we looked at a lot of different sites to move the team before we found this one. Robert Yates moving out of this building really moved things up about a year for us. It was a gamble and it was hard, but it was something we all knew we needed to do. This is the first step for us getting this team back to where we need to be and getting competitive."
A lunch visit to DEI was next on the schedule with team owner Teresa Earnhardt and Global Operations head Max Siegel introducing the team's driver line-up which includes Mark Martin and Aric Armirola sharing the No. 8 US Army ride, Martin Truex, Jr. in the Bass Pro Shops No. 8, Paul Menard in the Menard's No. 15 and rookie Regan Smith piloting the No. 01.
The contingent then headed to the Hendrick Motorsports campus where seven-time Cup Series championship team owner Rick Hendrick introduced his all-star line-up.
Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champ Jeff Gordon, Casey Mears and newcomer Dale Earnhardt Jr. answered questions from the media and also took time for several breakout session interviews.
"It's been overwhelming with everything that's happened for us to get to this point," said Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP/National Guard Chevrolet. "There really aren't enough hours in the day for me to really explain how much I've learned and seen the last few weeks. I'm so excited about this year that I'm nervous, which makes me feel like I did when I was a rookie coming into the sport.
Wednesday's activities concluded with a trip to Michael Waltrip Racing.
The new Raceworld headquarters was designed as an open and fan-friendly experience and was the culmination of a "dream come true" for Waltrip.
Waltrip introduced his 2008 driver lineup which will find Dale Jarrett behind-the-wheel of the UPS Toyota for the first five races of the season before retiring to the ABC/ESPN broadcast booth.
David Reutimann will then takeover while Michael McDowell moves into the No. 00 ride.
"Even though I am only 23, it feels like I've been doing this a long time," McDowell said. "I started racing professionally in 2003 and I've been hard at it ever since."