ROBBIE LOOMIS (Petty Enterprises Executive Vice President of Race Operations) NOTE: Bobby Labonte qualified fourth for Sunday's Golden Corral 500 in the No. 43 Betty Crocker/Cheerios Dodge, and Kyle Petty will start 32nd in the No. 45 National...
ROBBIE LOOMIS (Petty Enterprises Executive Vice President of Race Operations)
NOTE: Bobby Labonte qualified fourth for Sunday's Golden Corral 500 in the No. 43 Betty Crocker/Cheerios Dodge, and Kyle Petty will start 32nd in the No. 45 National Tire & Battery Dodge Charger.
"Bobby said the car felt pretty good last night in qualifying. It was a little bit off, a little bit free. We talked earlier in the year before the season started. We're going to be like the stock market. We're going to have some moments when we peak and we're up pretty good, and we're going to have some down moments. Hopefully we'll be charting up and get the Dow back up to the 14,000-15,000 range (the Dow closed Friday at 11,279.65). I think yesterday was a pretty good practice for sure. We had both Petty Dodges in the top 10 in practice. Kyle was up there. Right now we're making a hard effort with Kyle to try to get him up there in the top 10 qualifying on Friday. Kyle start pushing in qualifying. We made an adjustment with right front air pressure and it pushed."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR THE RACE? "Overall for the race, we know Bobby is as great as anybody who has ever raced here. It's a real test for us to give him a car equal to his ability. This is the same Dodge that Bobby had at California, but we really missed the setup in California. It looks good in the wind tunnel. We're still trying to figure out where we need to be. We feel like Dodge definitely needs something in the front headlight area, something to soften up that Charger a little bit, but we'll let NASCAR handle that. We might use the '04 again at Texas with Bobby. If it wins here, we just might have to take it to Texas."
IS THIS TEAM READY TO WIN? "I think we've got to learn to crawl and then take some small steps. I've seen it before. I saw it when we won at Phoenix in 1996. You can look like you're far off, but if you make good calls and use good strategies and stay up front and the next thing you know you're in victory lane. I'm not surprised Bobby qualified that well. I've seen him be real good down here. When I was with Jeff Gordon sometimes we'd qualify real good and sometimes we'd be 30th. What I like about Atlanta it's a good racetrack to pass on. Even where Kyle's starting, he can come up to the front."
WITH BOBBY IN THE '04 AND KYLE IN THE CHARGER, DOES THAT HELP YOU LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED? "We definitely can compare. We know the Charger has got a little bit more front downforce than the '04. We're trying to work through that. Each practice and each qualifying session and each race helps you learn more and give you a data point. We'll just work on race trim today and try to run the cars in different grooves and see if we can get the feel the drivers are looking for."
HAS IT BEEN WHAT YOU EXPECTED SO FAR AT PETTY ENTERPRISES? "Yeah, it's a lot of work. We had two or three months to prepare for Daytona, and we did a great job. All the guys at Petty Enterprises worked hard and we've been working hard on the stuff for the non-plate tracks because that's 32 races. We're building a new car for Bobby for Talladega. We're not ready today, but we'll be ready. We're testing at Caraway Speedway on Wednesday for the short tracks with Kyle and Bobby. Kyle Busch is going to be up there, too, so it'll be good to see how we stack up with him. Caraway is really good to prepare for Martinsville."
ARE YOU PUTTING IN A LOT OF LONG HOURS? "I don't even keep up with them. I'm putting in enough to make sure we're doing things we need to do right. I'm working six days a week. I try to take off a little on Thursday. We're having a good time, but we'd be having a better time if we were running better."
IS THE KING HAPPY? "He hasn't been happy the past couple of weeks. He was happy at Daytona and after that he says we've got a lot of work to do. All in all I think he's pretty happy. He comes in and gets on us when he needs to, but that's the job of a good owner. The thing about Richard, he's going to leave you alone if he doesn't see any hope for you, but when he starts to see it and thinks things can come together, he's going to ride you hard. Right now I think he sees a lot of fire for this program. He just wants to see it move a little faster than it's moving."