Michigan II: Petty, Labonte - Dodge Friday interview

Kyle Petty (No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge Charger) WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO YOUR HAND "It was really a freak thing, in all honesty. Because I have punched through those cabinets before, I will admit that. The transmission broke first and then I ran...

Kyle Petty (No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge Charger)

WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO YOUR HAND "It was really a freak thing, in all honesty. Because I have punched through those cabinets before, I will admit that. The transmission broke first and then I ran into the back of Dale Jarrett and knocked the oil cooler off of it with about 30 laps to go. So I was a little frustrated. As I was walking the aisle of the truck, I hit it on the side, not with my knuckles but on the side. I hit the side of the cabinet doors and it broke the small bone in the back part of my hand. Evidently the way that my hand hit it just popped that bone and it was freak. I hit it and I was like, 'well that's good, transmission, oil cooler and now a hand.' I knew it was broke as soon as it hit. It was just a freak deal. I've been a lot madder and lot more frustrated at other times. I don't mind punching cabinets, it's out of the public view. But this one was definitely stupid but, a freak way to do it."

SOME FANS MIGHT THINK WHAT'S GOING ON WITH KYLE NOW? "I don't know. I've always been this way, ask my crew. Why do you think so many people quit working for me? Because I just scream at them all the time. I'm not a choir guy. When you're in that position, we felt like we had a good car and Billy felt we had a good car. Then you break something right off the bat. It makes a long day out of it. Then you get in a wreck that somebody else causes and you're in the middle of something that's not your fault, again, it just compounds itself. That's the funny part about this sport. I think everybody wants everybody to be choir boys and when Tony (Stewart) speaks out and they speak their mind and you have instances that happened with Harvick and Montoya last week. That's just adrenaline, the passion of being in the moment and wanting to win a race. Then all-of-a-sudden it's over for you. It's not like a basketball game where you get to play 40 some minutes before it's all over for you. I think frustration builds and then you do things."

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP THE CAST ON AND OUT OF COMMISSION? "Good question. Four to six weeks if they reset it. But a lot shorter if I let them go in and put a plate and screws in. So I just chose to let them put the plate on it. They operated on it on Tuesday morning and put a plate in it and put four screws in it. It's doing a lot better, I'm a lot more mobile today than I was. I've got to go back in this coming Wednesday before we go to Bristol. The reason this (the cast) is so big is because I've had surgery on it so part of this is the bandage for the wound, more so than for the broken hand. Hopefully I'll be back in the car in 10, 14 days."

YOU MUST HAVE HIT THAT CABINET PRETTY HARD "It snapped it (the bone) in half. It didn't make any difference because it wasn't fractured, it was broken. It didn't have a crack in it, it was broken. So I think when you look at it, you can sit out four to six weeks and that's a headache. The way they set it was kind of strange. I had my hand in the wrong position. So we just said 'cut it.'"

WHO DO YOU CONSIDER FOR THE CAR "You'd have to ask Billy and Robby that. I told Billy that was his decision. I was going to let that be Billy Wilburn's decision. When I sat out the six races to do TNT, I told them 'pick guys you can work with'. Obviously you added a few more names to the list because you had Nemechek and Sterling out there now. But I think they were really impressed with Chad when they ran him at Pocono. So they wanted to give him another shot.

WHERE DOES THIS RANK ON THE STUPID SCALE "Oh I've done a lot stupider things. Believe me. I'm 47 so this doesn't even move the needle on stupid."

DID YOUR GRANDFATHER OR YOUR DAD EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS? "The King was incredibly intense on what he did. But he was always one of those guys that hid it. I did away from everyone. If I hadn't broke my hand you would never know it. He was always good at not doing it in public. But you knew it when you got to the shop or the ride home, what had gone wrong and how he felt it needed to be fixed. I think all the guys that are good at it and really want to be here. That's the funny part. People always say, how much longer you going to do this? But obviously if I like it (racing) enough to punch a wall then I'm going to be here a few more years."

ARE YOU STILL PLANNING ON RACING AT BRISTOL? "At this juncture right now, yea, Bristol is still on my list. But I'll be honest with you, until we really went in and put the plate and the pins in it, this place was still on my list. Because I didn't think this place would be hard on you at all. It's just the angle that my hand is set. Obviously I can't grab anything and I can't do anything. When they cut the open wound and the stitches become an issue for the safety of my hand as much as the broken bone did."

HOW ARE YOU WITH PAIN? "Once you break a bone, once it goes back together, the pain moves from wherever that bone is to a pain in your butt. Because your just so aggravated that you can do the things you want to be doing."

HOW MANY BONES HAVE YOU BROKEN "Oh I don't know. I've broken my collar bones eight, 10, 12 times. I rode motorcycles for a long time before I got in race cars. This is not all race car injuries."

DO YOU GUYS HAVE CHAD (MCUMBEE) UNDER CONTRACT? "We have him under some type of contract. I don't know what type or where it's at. But he's tested for us ever since he ran at Pocono, he's test for us three of four times. He was in Iowa this past week testing for us. So yes, he's under some type of contract with us."

DOES THIS KIND OF THING MAKE YOU SIT DOWN AND WONDER, WHAT AM I DOING OUT HERE? "No. I never think about things like that. I just don't. This didn't happen in a race car, it happened in the back of a truck. If I was in a meeting this would have happened on a board table or something. Like I said, one day I'll wake up and not want to ride around in circles anymore and I'll just quit."

TALK ABOUT WHERE THE TEAM IS RIGHT NOW

"I think we should be a lot better than where we're at. We ran good the first part of the year. We were up in the mid-20's in points and then we just fell like a rock. The last three races, we've run just terrible. We had a good car at Watkins Glen. We had a pretty good car at Indy and just got caught up in someone else's wreck. We've just not run good.

"I feel like the 43 car should be better than where they're at. Even last week, Bobby (Labonte) ran pretty good and ends up with a terrible finish. I think at different times we've run good in the race, but just don't have much to show for it. But there's a lot of teams like that. We've had great runs, not to have the finishes. But at the same time we've got to get more consistent. We just never found that consistency over the past three or four years and I think that's what we have to get."

***

No. 43 Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger)

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CREW CHIEF SWITCH "As far as performance goes, we hate to make changes sometimes and you don't know why things get to be the way they are, but the change was made and hopefully that will spark our program around and be we're 20th in points and have an average 20th or 21st place finishes. Doug is coming in here like Robby (Lomis) told him we're not looking to go from 20th to 1st. If we can go from 20th to 15th and from 15th to 10th and 10th to 5th and so on and so forth, that's what we're looking for. It's not like I can say to Doug there's magic. It's the top of the tree that's got to make it happen. It's just making all the fruit at the bottom of the tree work together. The changes he makes that we talked about will make it happen and those little things will make the difference; it's the small things that are going to do it."

IS PAUL DOING ALRIGHT? "Yeah, it took him a while to get over this, obviously and he's only getting better. The thing is he is going to get better; it's just going to take awhile. He broke his back and his heel and then he hit his head and has a concussion. It's nothing serious there as of right now."

DID YOU HAVE A HAND IN PICKING DOUG? "Yeah. We met with Doug last week and at this point in time, there's three or four guys out there looking for jobs and I thought Doug would fit my style. I've known Doug for awhile and I feel as far as the two of us go, chemistry is what it is about and relationship and everything and we have the same goal; the thing is you have to work together to get there. It's togetherness that will do that."

What would say is your goal for the end of the year? "Well, it's hard to put into a timeline, but we would like to see 15th in points by the time the year is out. The main thing is that we want to see improvements each week as an organization. The company needs to start somewhere and see improvements, but the long term goal is get the car running in the top 10 week after week and being consistent and being competitive. That's what it is all about with everybody in this garage. Everybody uses pretty much the same tools to work with and its all about the communication industry. Getting people to work together toward the same goals and make it happen has been my focus here."

Did you tell Doug not to listen to the rumor mill? That you are going to be here through who knows when?

"Oh, we haven't really talked about any of that. We're focused on today right now."

Two weeks from today, you go to a track that is almost identical. How will you approach that?

It is similar, but it's a different type of racetrack. Even though it looks the same from an aerial view, if you take a look at it, it is still different. It drives differently than we do here and it's a lot harder for me to get around than Michigan is. Its flatter and turn one is rougher. You have a lot of bumps you have to go through and it's more of flat corner there in turn three and four than here. We'll be able to take our notes from here and apply it more so to Fontana than say, Charlotte."

How challenging is that track at the start of a race when you have the sun setting?

"It can be kind of aggravating and I race with my sunglasses on at the start the last time we were there. Then you take them off and your visor strips as you go because the sun is gone. It seems at that time of year, the sun sets at turn two and three. You can imagine driving like that you have to get used to it for a few laps."

-credit: dodge motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Petty