Continued from part 1 Q: As you get used to it, will that have primarily to do with what you do with the wing and the splitter or is it more subtle things than that? ROBBIE LOOMIS: We'll always be monitoring what we're doing with the ...
Continued from part 1
Q: As you get used to it, will that have primarily to do with what you do with the wing and the splitter or is it more subtle things than that?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: We'll always be monitoring what we're doing with the wing and splitter. That's just part of our aero package. Probably the biggest thing we'll be doing is working with the springs and the shocks, trailing arms, all that stuff.
Q: NASCAR racing is a lot about changes. Have you experienced more apprehension by teams over changes while at NASCAR with the arrival of the COT?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: 10 or 15 years ago, I was one of those guys when they made a change, whatever it was, if it was one shock instead of two shocks, I was jumping up and down, thought the world was coming to an end. It would take me two weeks to get over it. I'd realize it took me two weeks off my focus what I needed to be focusing on.
You know, I've kind of learned to roll with the changes they make. The majority of the time, if you look at the France family, what they've done with NASCAR, it's been amazing. Usually everything works out and goes forward, keeps getting bigger and better for everybody involved.
When we hear Petty Enterprises, when they started the Car of Tomorrow project, like I said, they've been in it since the beginning of June. Two years ago, embraced it. I think it's going to be a great thing. I go back to the air boxes. I remember when they put air boxes on the air cleaners, everybody thought it was the worst thing in the world. Now if you went in there and told the guys in the garage you were going to take them off, everybody would jump up and down and want to quit (laughter).
Change is part of our life, not only in racing, but in everything we do.
Q: With your background at Hendrick Motorsports, I'm sure garage talk, you have an idea how much Hendrick Motorsports has been able to test the Car of Tomorrow with David Green. Compared to that and compared to a single- or double-car team, how much of an advantage is that going to be especially when we go into the Chase where five of the 10 races are Car of Tomorrow events?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: I think what you'll see, we've talked about this a lot, I think the bigger teams, when they first come out with this Car of Tomorrow, they've had a little more chance to test, they have more resources to throw at in the beginning. Hopefully a year, year and a half down the road, it will start to balance out some. We can get caught up with our breath.
You know, I think when it comes to the end of the day, at the end of the races, it comes down to the people that work on these race teams, the drivers that are in the seat, and the job that we're doing. I don't think when you look at the rundown it's going to change a lot based on just the Car of Tomorrow or not the Car of Tomorrow.
Q: How long will that take? A ballpark, with all the testing they've done, all the technology they have, how long will it take the lesser funded teams to catch up?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: I'm hoping by, what, Sunday (laughter). But that's a real good question. I think time will just tell. That's kind of predicting into the future. It's going to take a lot of work. Like I said, Jeff Troxler, all the guys here, focused on the Car of Tomorrow have been putting a lot into it. We're excited about it and, like I said, NASCAR has done a good job of drawing a tight box around it.
Q: You mentioned it's going to come down to people working on the race teams on these cars. Certainly here in this recent era there's been changes to the cars, tires, tracks. How challenging has it become for teams, crew chiefs, team managers in the last couple years in the sport? Certainly you need a smarter individual than what you needed even a couple years ago to keep up with all these changes in the sport?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: Yeah, you know, I think the sport's changed. Richard was in here talking today with us. I think the sport has just changed so much. It's changed so rapidly. At the end of the day, it's still the same thing: we're going out there racing, trying to beat the competitors. When it comes down to the bottom line, you just always want to try to have the guy that's on the leading edge of the development. Like I said, if they take the body things away that you can do for the aerodynamics of the car, then you got to get on to the next advantage where you can find it.
I think that's where you see the great crew chiefs, the great team leaders have always excelled in the past.
Q: Where do you find those people nowadays?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: We were talking earlier, race car drivers, guys on the team, there's a lot of talent out there. It's just a matter of we get a lot of great help that comes in here out of different series. There's always somebody on the team that's a car chief, say, at one of the other marquee teams that's looking to be a crew chief. There's crew chiefs that aren't in the right situation, looking for something different. Usually in our sport, there's a certain amount you can get from within the teams. A team like Petty Enterprises, we like to give guys an opportunity from outside, like from Busch racing, Truck racing also.
Q: Would you like to see the schedule for putting this on all tracks accelerated to next year everywhere?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: I would. I swear, I think looking at the hardship it's put on the guys in the shop this year, all the work that everyone's done here at Petty Enterprises, I think for all the race teams out there, it's been a ton of work focusing on two wind tunnels, wind tunnel for the mile-and-a-half car, wind tunnel for the car that the Dodge Avenger we'll be running up there at Bristol.
I think, yeah, it would definitely be a lot easier. Plus by the end of this year every team out there is going to have eight or 10 of these Dodge Avengers or Car of Tomorrow, however you want to look at it.
Q: Could you talk about what Bobby Labonte has brought to your organization, how that can help you grow and become more competitive.
ROBBIE LOOMIS: I think Bobby, it's just amazing what he's brought to Petty Enterprises. He's a cornerstone of the place now. He's raised the water table for all of us here. He's challenged us all to be better. I mean, every week when he does a race report, he drives us to make our product better.
I think it's great. Really, really felt good having him and Kyle up there at the Bristol test. We got together after the first day, kind of fed information off each other. It's neat because Bobby's drove in the Busch Series, he's drove in a lot of different cars. He's been a champion. Once you've been a champion, you're a winner, you want to keep driving towards that.
You know Bobby probably as well as anybody out there, he's great for the sponsors. Any time he meets a sponsor, they love him. The thing he has best about him, he's like Petty, he's got the cleanest name out there.
Q: When the King walks through the shop, you mentioned you have new people, do still see guys turn around and look, Wow, that's Richard Petty walking through the shop?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: Petty Enterprises is a very special place. That's a lot of what we've been talking about, you know, it has a special heart to it and a special feeling. I think with whatever we do as we grow, we want to make sure we keep that Petty touch into it.
I see drivers, race car drivers out there, when they see the King, it's a special moment. I think for us it's really neat. I see it with Bobby and Richard when they're talking. It's a neat thing seeing two winners like that talk.
HERB BRANHAM: Robbie, we really appreciate you taking some time out from your schedule to join us today and help us talk about this long-awaited project about to come to fruition, the Car of Tomorrow.
ROBBIE LOOMIS: Let's go win Bristol with Petty Enterprises.