Daytona Preseason Thunder - Dodge morning notes 2008-01-15

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 Daytona Int'l Speedway Preseason Thunder AM Session BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger) THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR AT PETTY ENTERPRISES "I would say the strength of the organization. The move to...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Daytona Int'l Speedway
Preseason Thunder
AM Session

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger)

THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR AT PETTY ENTERPRISES "I would say the strength of the organization. The move to Mooresville has been challenging but I think that the strength will come in Jeff's ability to get everybody working in the right direction. I've seen it already. He is helping everybody at the shop and working on things. He gives me more confidence, knowing that we're doing all the right things. It will push us a little farther ahead for the start of the season."

ON THE MOVE TO MOORESVILLE "There are pros and cons to both. I think that in the long run it's going to be [beneficial]. We're putting people in the right places. There are guys that wouldn't drive all the way to Level Cross to work [for Petty Enterprise]. They would just go somewhere else. So now you have people that will come work [at Petty Enterprises] because they can get there quicker. They have different ideas and that helps out. A little bit of that can get contagious and hopefully they will bring us up to speed. I think the move was inevitable."


JEFF MEENDERINA (crew chief, No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger)

THE DECIDING FACTOR IN MOVING TO PETTY "I worked with Robbie [Loomis] in the past and found out how good of a person he is. I really look up to him a lot. He kind of steered me in that direction [to Petty Enterprises]. I thought it was a great opportunity."


DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge Charger)

ON MOVING TO THE CUP SERIES "It wasn't one thing. It was a combination of factors. I was ready to retire from open wheel racing. I always ask myself the question, 'do I want to do this?' About half way through the IRL season I asked myself that question. And I wasn't sure I wanted to do this in '08.

"I was very interested in coming over to the NASCAR side. Chip and I talked about me doing it. He called me in August about this idea, to come drive for [him] next year. It was just good timing. "

ON HIS 2008 SCHEDULE "I'm going to drive some Nationwide races too, in the Fastenal car. Quite a few of those I think. It is going to be interesting to see how the new regulations work with the COT and the Nationwide car. I'm [also] doing the Rolex 24."

On his crew chief Steve Lane "We're just getting to know each other. We had four day testing together. He is very organized and methodical. I like that in a crew chief --in Indy cars we call them engineers- but I like that. He is very smart and right now the most important thing is patience. They're sort of learning what I like and what works for me."


SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger)

ON GETTING THE NO. 2'S POINTS "It's kind of a peace of mind going into the first five races knowing that you're going to get to race. It is difficult enough to be in the top 35 but if you miss the first race of the year it really puts you in a [tough spot]. Being able to go out and take it easy through the 150s and not have to put ourselves in too many bad positions. It gives you a little bit of an opportunity to get some race experience with the rest of the Cup drivers."

ON COMING TO NASCAR "It's really about the competition. When I first started talking to Penske back in 2002, one of the side questions was, is there going to be an opportunity to run stock cars? Having the opportunity to run one or the other has always interested me. I've always wanted to come to Daytona and race. I'm a huge race fan. I would watch any type of racing. [Moving to Cup] was the next thing. This is what was going to keep me motivated and push me. I feel that if I hadn't decided to do this, even though I'm only 28 years-old, I don't know how much longer I wanted to race. I needed a new challenge."


CHRIS CARRIER (crew chief, No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger)

ON SEEING THE TALENT OF HIS DRIVER "It's pretty obvious. It's like a big pylon in the snow, it just kind of sticks out. He is starting out in a type of racing that is a little bit different. To be honest with you, these COT cars running on a lot of race tracks that we didn't run them on last year, we're all on new ground. I think everyone will find out that this guy is here to stay."


KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)

"I'd say after the first half of last year it shows how quickly things can change. As far as this year, I'm excited. I'm excited to be here at the Daytona test and I don't know if I've ever been excited to be at a Daytona test. It's a boring couple of days. It's nice to be here and I'm looking forward to having Budweiser on the car. The team has done a really good job during the off season and we have a lot to look forward to. There has been a lot of change and there a lot of things that we're working on doing better. We had a down year last year so it will be nice to get started again.

"As far as the team, myself and Kenny, all of us had a really good attitude throughout the [2007] year. We felt like we tried hard, did everything we could and tried to figure things out. We just never hit on it. Yeah, it was disappointing but it's over with. We look forward to 2008 and don't have to think about 2007 anymore."


KENNY FRANCIS (team director, No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)

"I have some ideas [on why performance was down]. It almost goes back to 2005, that was the year they changed the spoiler. We struggled in 2005 as a company. I was with Mayfield back then and we made the Chase but we struggled. In 2006 we hit on some stuff early in the year. Then I felt like our bodies were off a little bit. You can tell we weren't running as good as we had been by the end of '06. In the beginning of 2007 we didn't improve on the problem."

"It was about September when Rodney Childers [team director, No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger] and I got together. We were like, 'look we're tired of getting our butt's kicked every week.' We came up with something we could try. We looked at the result and found that we were running better from September on and found it was directly related to bodies. We made a step in the right direction."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing