Loomis Confident On Future
September 17, 2008 | 8:34 A.M. EST
Recent solid runs by Bobby Labonte in the team's No. 43 Dodge have Loomis and the entire PE organization excited about the strides being taken.
"The last few weeks, we’ve kind of settled down a bit on our front-end stuff," Loomis said. "We had a great practice in Richmond. We felt the race was fair. When we went to Loudon, we felt like we had the best weekend for all of our practices. We were in the top-five in all the practices and really good in the rankings in the average of lap times. We felt good about the progress that we made (in Loudon). Thirteenth (place finish) isn’t what we want. We’re not going to quit until we find Victory Lane.
Labonte is locked down with a multi-year deal to stay behind-the-wheel of the No. 43 ride. Although sponsor General Mills is leaving at the end of the season for Richard Childress Racing, the organization is confident a replacement will be signed.
As for the No. 45 ride, those plans are a bit more up-in-the-air, but Loomis believes things will fall into place.
"There’s no secret that we’ve been working our way through it since we took on our new partners with Boston Ventures and David Zucker – the new CEO," Loomis said. "We’re still navigating our way through our direction. It’s obvious that we want to bring in a young guy with Bobby Labonte’s experience and try to build from there. We’re excited about this past weekend."
"We’re working a lot with Chad McCumbee and will probably take some looks at Chad this season for sure in another five races. We’re excited about where we’re going in the future with that…also excited about having the experience of Bobby Labonte on our side."
While McCumbee remains a priority for Petty's future, questions remain on the status of Kyle Petty and what role he'll play with the No. 45 ride - and in the future.
"Kyle’s going to be back in (the 45 car) this weekend in Dover and some other races lined up for him during the end of the year," Loomis said. "We’ll see Kyle and I’m sure you’ll see Kyle out there next year. As everyone knows, with all the sponsorship dependent on how you put all these programs together, we’re trying to work our way through it right now."
There is the possibility McCumbee would drive the 45 full-time next season with a third car fielded for Petty on a limited schedule.
"We’ve had a lot of discussion on that in staff meetings each week," Loomis explained. "Dave Zucker – our CEO – is trying to put a lot of things together on the sponsorship front and that’s one of the avenues that we’ve talked about. If we could run a third car on a limited schedule – even if it is a minimum of five to seven races – it does help us prepare and get a little bit of information in our circle and also prepare an easier transition when we go to three cars in 2010 when everyone gets this economy rolling again."
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