Going Up Season Closing With Continued Signs of Growth This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...
Season Closing With Continued Signs of Growth
This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge complete their 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Labonte heads into the final race of the season sitting 18 in driver points. He is only seven points behind Jamie McMurray for the 17 spot. It's the highest Labonte can reach.
This season shows marked improvements by Petty Enterprises and its famed #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge. John Andretti last raced the car inside the top 20 in points (17) in 1999. Labonte can match that mark this weekend. Labonte has cumulated 11 top-10 and three top-five finishes the past two seasons for Petty Enterprises.
Labonte has eight previous starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway and was crowned the winner in 2003. He also has four top-10 and three top-five finishes at the track.
Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's season finale:
"Yea, at the end of the day you can look at the numbers and it's pretty black and white. If you finished 16, 17, or 18 in points, and you weren't that high last season, you have improved. It's simple logic if you are studying stats, but this sport is more about chemistry than stats. It's about what it takes to get to the end result. What and who are the ingredients that make that happen, and that's why I feel we have improved this season. The growth of Petty Enterprises and the growth of our Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team continued this year from last. It made us better.
"We had to go through some changes and we've had our challenges too. I think Doug (Randolph) coming over helped us in the middle part of the year. We have a solid group of guys who worked really hard this season. That helped us as we went through the challenges of trying to get better.
"It's not easy to take the next step to get better. The sport is so competitive and teams are constantly getting better. We worked really hard this season, and we showed growth, but now we have to double that effort to make up more ground. But, I see good things for Petty Enterprises and this team next season. The move to Mooresville will only help us move forward at a quicker pace. We can continue to grow and get more specialized people.
"This sport has changed so much, but the new cars are going to change it again. It's a different direction. We need as many people working on this car as possible. We need to figure out how it works and what its characteristics are. I feel the move will get us closer to resources that will help us find the answers.
"The signs of growth are here at Petty Enterprises and this team is ready to push to the next level. It's time to get this car into the championship battle next season. I'm ready and this organization is ready. We are going to work hard over the winter with the goal of making that happen.